Email as an expectation

Let me start be explaining what’s is email on the basic level. As a primary it’s a communication tool to convey some sort of message. It might be a hello note from a friend, a bunch of photos form holidays, a business proposal, company announcement etc. Email serves this purpose great. It’s ubiquitous, simple to handle and unrestricted.
Second layer of email is to create expectation that the message will cause a reaction of the recipient. This reaction can take various form from a simple delete action to an actual response back to sender.

The unfortunate fact is that email can only pass a very limited non-verbal communication. You can’t see what the sender is feeling when he writes the message you can’t see his eyes, face, body posture etc. Emails have tone and energy but only for the one who type it, the recipient has only words in front and very few cues how to read it. That’s why same text can be read in different ways. This leads to great many misunderstandings, confusions and conflicts.

The problem lies in the fact that senders rarely communicate what is their expectation and what they want from the recipient. This is one of primary reasons we see emails with dozens of people included in cc: field. Unless it’s clearly stated that the message is for information only it mean that the sender is not sure what they do and hope that someone will react and do something.

This approach is not sustainable and not practical for few reasons.

  • when receiving a lot messages a day it makes very difficult to look at every single one and decide what’s needed with out clearly stated point.
  • for sender email is one to one relationship, I’ve sent you an email and I expect response. However repecipent has many such relationships and therefore it’s one against many.
  • Clear expectation gives better chance for desired response. If people know what they are required to do, they are more likely to do it rather than put it for later.

Since you can’t change change other people’s behavior and how they use email but you can change your own. To put it simply lead by example.

Start of by clearly expressing what you want. Use clear and short sentences, avoid long winded explanations. Even complex problems could be explained in a simple way.

You will save other people’s time and energy. You will save yourself hassle and stressing over stuff.

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