Here’s How to Master Work Email, According to 8 Top Execs
Subject line: Get shit done.
Email…it’s the worst. Managing all the crap in your inbox is like half your job! But smart leaders have developed smart strategies for making the most of work email. Here six key tips.
1. Never start a paragraph with “I.”
“That immediately sends a message that you are more important than the person that you’re communicating with. When you start to train your thinking about how to not use ‘I,’ you become a better writer, and it teaches you how to really think through an issue.”
—Jonathan M. Tisch, co-chairman of the board of the luxury hotel Lowes Corporation
2. Learn to love the forward button.
“When you get a note with useful information, consider who else would find it useful. At the end of the day, make a mental pass through the mail you received and ask yourself, ‘What should I have forwarded but didn’t?'”
—Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, Alphabet Inc. (formerly, Google) executive chairman and former senior vice president of products
3. Never put anything private in a work email.
“It’s called ‘The front page of the newspaper test, and it goes something like: ‘Don’t do, say, or write anything you wouldn’t want published on…’”
—Scott McGregor, president and CEO of Broadcom
4. Put in a deadline—for everything.
“I insist that people on the Birchbox team indicate when they need a response in all emails. It makes prioritization so much faster.”
—Katia Beauchamp, co-founder of Birchbox
5. Got it? Say you got it.
“If you don’t respond, [the person who sent you an email] will have no idea whether or not they’ve been heard. Not only will this create worry about whether or not you received it, it is likely to generate another email with fundamentally the same content, but this time a number of additional people in the ‘To:’ line in the hopes they’ll respond, given you didn’t. The more people addressed, the more crowded your inbox is likely to become.”
—Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO
6. Keep it short.
“When people email me, it’s like a text … Constant, real-time communication. I want people to be concise. A small screen and less-efficient keyboard force people to get the point across. You’re not going to type four paragraphs on your phone.”
—Steve Yankovich, chief product officer of eBay Enterprise
7. Miss an email? Make it part of tomorrow’s to-do list.
Create a “yesterbox,” a folder that holds all the previous day’s emails. Then spend the day going through them. Repeat. “The great thing about this is when you get up in the morning, you know exactly how many emails you have to get through, there’s a sense of progress as you process each email from yesterday and remove it from your inbox, and there’s actually a point when you have zero emails left to process from yesterday.”
—Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO
Photos by UpperCut Images