You’ve Got (E)Mail

General Delivery

  • I’ve evolved email rules for myself.  Austin Kleon says, “All Advice is Autobiographical.”  So, take my rules with a grain of salt!
    • Limit any email to one topic or question; emails should be 8 sentences, or less.
    • When I have a question or request, I phrase it as yes/no question, and put it at the top of the email.
    • When suggesting a meeting, I offer 3-4 times that I’m available.
    • When someone emails me with multiple questions, or on a complex or sensitive topic, I suggest that we talk.  10 minutes of conversation can do more work than a long email chain.
    • I do answer every email I receive from a human, usually within one business day.  Unless it’s a weekend, or I’m on vacation.

“Are you sending this to a peer, an authority figure, or a stranger? If it’s not a peer, skip ‘Hey’…”  How to Avoid Miscommunications & Email Like a Real Human Being, by Sasha Van Hoven at 99u.

[tweet it!]

Rules of Engagement

  • Never ever ever ever ever ever ever use email to give someone critical or developmental feedback.  (Never.) (Ever.)  If you’re a manager, it’s terrible form to avoid the actual conversation — though sending an email to follow up on the discussion can be useful for your team member.  (If you’ve never done this before, do get some coaching from your manager or HR.)


  • Like my experience at work, the way an organization uses email often follows unspoken rules.  For example, even though there’s an “open door policy,” it’s usually not ok to email your grievances to the CEO.  When you lead people who are new to an organization, brief them on these rules.  Preferably before they break them.

[tweet it!]

Playlist Corner


  • “When introducing two people who don’t know each other, ask each of them to opt-in to the introduction before making it.”  The Double Opt-In Intro, by Fred Wilson.  (#networking)

[tweet it!]


from Issue #12, January 7/8, 2018 of How to Have a Job

< Advice, Issue #10

Click the GIF and subscribe!


©copyright Anne Libby, 2017