The Wall Street Journal reports on new research that may improve business professionals' efficiency and reduce stress. We already know some of the email advice, but the article adds nuance to some decisions. For example, most people know to avoid all caps because it looks as though you're yelling. But one study shows that "AND" or "BUT," for example, can "provide emphasis, communicate urgency, or inject humor."
Older advice still stands, for example, to avoid answering too quickly and sending messages after work hours. Obsessively checking one's inbox is still a problem for many people, so closing email applications and scheduling times to check (for example, once every 45 minutes) is a better choice. Otherwise, incoming email interrupts work, and it takes people about a minute to get back to where they were.
The article also warns against using emoticons or emojis when you don't know the receiver well. Readers tend to judge these writers as incompetent. But go ahead and use them for internal communication, particularly within teams of people who know each other well.
New research about timing may help business professionals get the response they want. People respond most quickly to emails earlier in the week and earlier in the day, so sending an email on Monday between 8 am and noon may be a better choice than, say, Friday afternoon.
- What are your biggest challenges with email? How have you overcome them?
- As a reader, what, if any, aspects of emails that cause you to judge the intelligence or competence of the sender?