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What email is supposed to be

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Internal communication mechanism

Email has grown to become an essential part of business communication. Each work day (and often our evenings and weekends) is filled with constant information flowing back and forth between team members, customers, clients, and others. When faced with all that information, how can we make our email communication vital, engaging, and valuable? In the noise of constant contact, how do we get our email signals to stand out? How can we write compelling emails to be heard, understood, and acted upon?

How do we get our messages heard, understood, and acted upon?

Like a human being, a company has to have an internal communication mechanism, a “nervous system,” to coordinate its actions.

Bill Gates

Suppose we can’t get our email messages to stand out among the noise. In that case, the internal communication mechanism, or “nervous system,” that Bill Gates refers to is not efficient in doing its job: sensing the environment, allowing for rational thought and decision-making, and directing/coordinating the actions of the organization to capture opportunities, reduce risk, and further the business toward its objectives.

Does this happen to you?

Select any of the email problem statements below that resonate with you. Maybe you have another one that comes to mind.

  • (1) You never receive an answer to your email and wonder if they ever got it.

  • (2) You send an email with three questions, and then only receive an answer to one of them.

  • (3) You know that you received an email on a specific topic at some point in the past, but now you can’t find it.

  • (4) You look up at the clock and realize that you just spent 30 minutes reading and sorting the same emails that you read and sorted yesterday.

Think about whether there is another statement that would describe your typical email problem. Please take a moment to send it to me. Click on either the “Contact Teacher” button (only displayed if logged in and registered) or “Send an email to Peter” (will open an email window with your default email program). Then, write your email problem statement, or let me know which of the four above you selected – send me the number(s) you picked.

Does this describe you?

Click on “Flip Card” at the bottom of each to see three email pain scenarios. (Note: all cards must be flipped to complete the lesson)

You get 100 emails each day and send 100 more…

You get 100 emails daily and send 100 more…

Sisyphus pushes his rock up the hill daily, as we seem to push email up the mountain, to do it again tomorrow.
Sisyphus and his rock!

…but you feel like you aren’t getting anything done.

You write a long email…

You write a long email…

A trashcan icon reminds us that many emails we write end up as trash instead of effective communication.
The ubiquitous email trashcan!

..but instead of sending, you delete it.

Your inbox has a stack of unread emails…

Your inbox has a stack of unread emails…

Stacks of papers representing email inbox overload.
Email inbox on overload!

…and you hope to get to them someday.

Isn’t email supposed to:

  • Be a helpful tool?
  • Enable us to get more done?
  • Facilitate passing information more quickly?
  • Allow us to arrive at better decisions more efficiently?

A good friend of mine has over 17,000 emails in her email inbox. To me, that would be suffocating. But she does well with it. However, the problem is that her computer doesn’t quite like it, and she risks file corruption and losing a large amount of data, information, and history.

Maybe you are in a similar situation. Is email helping you get more done? And, if it does, is it quick and easy? Or do you find yourself struggling at times to keep up?

Regarding email, there may be…

A few mistakes you routinely make…

A few mistakes you routinely make…

…that only take a few minutes to recognize and correct.

A couple of changes to how you write …

A couple of changes to how you write…

…that will increase your effectiveness.

Several beneficial habit patterns you can adopt…

Several beneficial habit patterns you can adopt…

…that will streamline your ability to act upon, reply to, and process emails.

Marshall Goldsmith, on success and behavior

Image of Marshal Goldsmith's book, What Got You HEre Won;t Get You There

How Successful People Become Even More Successful!

“One of the greatest mistakes of successful people is the assumption, ‘I behave this way, and I achieve results. Therfore, I must be achieving results because I behave this way.’

This belief is sometimes true, but not across the board. That’s where superstition kicks in. It creates the core fallacy necessitating this book, the reason that ‘what got us here won’t get us there.’ I’m talking about the difference between success that happens because of our behavior and the success that comes in spite of our behavior.

Almost everyone I meet is successful because of doing a lot of things right, and almost everyone I meet is successful in spite of some behavior that defies common sense.”

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith, pg 26

What email is supposed to be…

Remember, Bill Gates helped us understand what email communication is supposed to be: a “nervous system” for business. As mentioned above, email’s purpose is to sense the environment, allow for rational thought and decision-making, and direct/coordinate the organization’s actions to capture opportunities, reduce risk, and further the business toward its objectives. Therefore, email shouldn’t be annoying, bothersome, or tedious. Instead it should be vibrant, effective, and compelling! If it isn’t compelling, it isn’t doing its job.

Woman using her computer to write a compelling email.
Email is a vital tool for connection and communication.

Next up: How we get there

In the next lesson, we start our discussion on how to make email a vital, engaging, and valuable tool in your communication toolbox. If you read this lesson as a Free Preview, please consider purchasing the entire course to see Joseph Pulitzer’s advice from over 100 years ago and how it applies to email today. Also, you will learn email templates (with downloadable resources) and the Six Keys to Clear Writing.

As with all of PH Tyson’s training products, I offer a full-satisfaction money-back guarantee. If you purchase my course, complete it, and determine that you did not receive the value you asked for, please contact me, and I will make it right, even if that means I will return your total purchase price.

Lesson tags: communication, email
Back to: Writing Compelling Emails

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