Here is a list of When NOT to send a mail … in no particular order.
For decades, mail was the only method of collaboration. Not any longer. Now with so many available options, we must choose the right tool for the right purpose.
When Not to send a mail
- When you are angry, depressed, feeling left out, feeling oppressed
- If the mail you just received has disturbed you in any way. Take a pause – a long pause. Think about the issue – from resolution point of vie w, not retaliatory or revengeful manner. Then, if you still feel like replying, reply. Often disputes or disagreements are solved better face to face. Angry mail trails help nobody, including you!
- When you are intoxicated (under the influence of any substance, circumstances or person). This one is obvious. What is not obvious nor easy is to suppress the urge to send mails or respond to existing mails while intoxicated.
- When you want a one-liner answer. In this case use Skype for Business to chat and finish it off. Remember that Skype for Business chats are centrally archived and are acceptable legal evidence (just like one-liner mails).
When you want to delegate some work to someone, DO NOT send a mail. Send it as a Task Request. This way you can monitor the task completion effectively.
- When your thoughts are not clear, the mails we send are ambiguous and fuzzy. Revise the content, bring more clarity, check with a colleague if possible and then send.
- Sending large documents, proposals or reports is often cumbersome. If the attachment size is beyond the prescribe limit, you cannot send the mail anyway. However, even if you CAN send the attachment, remember that the copy which goes to other parties is completely out of your control. If you want control, store it on OneDrive, SharePoint, Groups (or any other similar corporate storage) and send the link.
- If there is a long mail trail, discussing some issue or dispute and you have now been added to it – in order to resolve the issue. In this case, you replying to the mail trail only increases its length and adds to the confusion. Instead, Open the mail and choose IM dropdown and choose Reply All with IM. This opens a Skype for Business (or Lync) window and adds all recipients to a chat window. This increases the chances of resolving the issue faster – and with consensus.
- In the above scenario, if most people are NOT online, schedule a meeting using Reply with Meeting option. Use Skype meeting if there are remote users involved.
- If you want someone to review a document quickly, DO NOT send it as an attachment. You cannot control when the other party will see it. More importantly, while the other person is reviewing / editing it, there is no scope of clarifications or interaction. The right way is to share the document in a live Skype for Business sharing session. If required, give control to the other party and finish of the editing and approval quickly.
- DO NOT choose Reply All when you are in BCC. That exposes you and the sender! In newer versions of Outlook and Exchange (2010 onwards), the mail itself shows a warning informing you that if you send this mail to all, everyone will know that you were on BCC. Read that warning and stop sending that mail.
- Do not use email when there is a better alternative available. OneDrive/ SharePoint is better if there is further action like review or editing involved. For urgent work use Skype for Business. For team specific (using Office 365 groups), post it as a conversation. Only the team members can see the mail and that too, inside the Group Conversations area.
- Want inputs from multiple people? Post it on OneDrive and share the link. Multiple persons can edit the same document simultaneously. This way, the document always remains as a single copy and cumbersome copy paste from multiple copies is completely eliminated. OneDrive also manages versioning automatically.
- When you know that the recipient is Out of Office. This is shown explicitly by Outlook BEFORE you send the mail.
- When you are sending a mail to too many people unnecessarily. This happens when you randomly include delivery groups – without realizing how many persons are going to receive the mail. Outlook shows this explicitly BEFORE you send the mail. Notice it and refrain from including too many out-of-context recipients. In some cases, posting it on the appropriate Yammer or Slack group may give you better results.
- When the message you are sending may not be received by the other party. The recipient mailbox may be full or have mail size restriction. As usual, Outlook displays that message upfront BEFORE you send the mail. That way you prevent an NDR from getting created.
- When you want to conduct a survey, DO NOT send a mail with the survey as an attachment. This increases your work. You will need to detach the file from each reply and tabulate the results manually. Create an Excel Survey or SharePoint Survey. Alternatively, if it is an urgent requirement, call for a Skype for Business meeting and use multiple polls to capture anonymous feedback.
When Not to send a mail
In short, do not send a mail when there is a better method or tool available. If you misuse emails, then everyone – including you – will suffer.
Your turn …
Have I missed any scenario?
Please add your scenarios to comments and I will update this article.