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How to Get People to Ignore Your Emails

Posted by Carl E. Reid Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Email communication can be a frustrating experience by our own doing.  NetM@nners explains why.  "We live in a me, me, me – busy, busy, busy world. Our society is really self-centered . . . One thing is clear, you shouldn’t expect others to behave as you think they should — they are not you".  Our immediate gratification based society dictates our expectation that every person we send an email should respond as soon as s/he finishes reading it.  Good luck with that thought.

If we work on understanding what motivates people, responses to emails may be faster.  So lets take a quick trip down the opposite lane on what encourages people to not be in a hurry to open and actually read emails received.  

Establishing these bad habits is a sure fire way to make people ignore or miss emails you send them.
  • Not having a compelling statement in the "Subject" that makes someone want to open your email.  Hi, hello and hey says nothing to the reader and may even trigger spam filtering, causing your email never to be read. Forbes writer, Kern Lewis's article How To Write A Compelling E-Mail Subject Line covers how to create a sense of urgency.  Also check out 5 Tips for Writing Subject Lines that Will Get Your Emails Opened from Constant Contact.
  • Not changing the "Subject" line when the email topic changes.  People can easily think they already read your email, because it has the same topic as a previous email you sent or they sent. Now your new topic gets deleted, without being read. Bye bye to that totally awesome idea you had.
  • Using email to initiate a series of back and forth conversation volleys, when a single phone call is more expeditious.
  • Introducing new topics in the email "Body", which are unrelated to the topic in the "Subject". 
  • Using email as a word processor for lengthy sharing of information. Keep emails short and to the point.
  • Bad timing on business email sends. Since business people constantly receive email, Saturday or Sunday may not be the best time to send emails.  By Monday, your email could be pushed so far down and out of sight by the 50-100 emails delivered after your email.  Just because you send an email during the weekend does not mean other people read emails during the weekend. Everyone has different work habits.  Send email when you know there is a good chance a person is in their office AND cleared out their "Inbox".
  • Not paying attention to geographic time zones.  Consider your reader's local time zone, when timing an email send. Your email sent at 9AM might be 9PM to your email reader. Better to write an email in draft mode. Then send the email during your reader's local business hours
  • Sending email to people in different cultural work environments. Again, consider timing email sends mentioned above. In many Spanish speaking countries, work stops at 2PM and resumes at 4PM.  In Europe, weekends are definitely considered mini holidays. Relaxing and spending time with family is a priority on weekends, especially in France.
  • Disregarding country holidays. Keep a world holiday calendar handy.  Time email sends accordingly, to increase the chances of your email being opened and read.

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