Answer Your Damn Email.

There's no good excuse why you shouldn't be answering (almost) every email that hits your inbox. Anything else is just rude behavior.

In recent years, it's become a trendy business strategy to selectively reply to email communication. Some emails get a fast response and others die a slow death in your inbox only to have you give a vague answer later about "I think I saw something like that".

Communication is a complex paradigm.

Words have meanings. And then they have "meanings".

It is easy to spend a lot of distracted time thinking about the nuance and strategy of communication instead of just communicating. It's not a game. It's just a discussion.And like any other human behavior, we each do it a little bit different. But not doing it's a strategy at all. It's selfish and self limiting and downright stupid.

Especially if you have aspirations of greatness.

Email is by far the most popular communication platform for us humans. Especially when it comes to business. We speak on the phone and send text messages, tweet out thoughts on social media and use chat platforms for fast response questions.

But day today, email is how we engage best. It's how we find support for our technology questions, book business travel, and target prospective customers for new business opportunities. It's a living breathing  diary of our existence.

So why drop out of the discussion?

There are some who say "if you have nothing good to say, don't say anything at all". And in certain ways that prescription works when you're feeling threatened or angry about the communication that you have just received. But that's not a license for just ignoring the emails in your Inbox. They don't go away.

The discussion doesn't go away. And the problem underlying the communication does not go away. The only thing that goes away is your input. Your insight. Your ability to mend fences or bring inspiration.

Which is why you should answer each email.

It's OK to say "NO", "Thanks, I'm not interested" or "Let's talk about this face-to-face so that we get all the angles."  Those are legitimate options for you. Here are a few golden rules to mastering your email and avoiding the pitfalls of email:

  1. Never send an email response longer than 4-5 sentences.
  2. Don't emails stack up. Answer them from your smartphone in between meetings and calls.
  3. If you have to ask more than a single question schedule a call to discuss the details.
  4. Use tools like Boomerang or RightInbox to remind you of important emails you are expecting.
  5. Avoid answering emails you are CC: on unless you are specifically asked for your opinion.
  6. Interject "What makes you say that" or "Tell me more" into an email conversation that seems threatening.
  7. Include your phone number in your signature so that you can be reached if necessary.
  8. Send short responses in the subject line  -- include an <EOM> tag to make it easy on the reader.
  9. If you have to spend more than 30 seconds thinking about a response send a "When are you available to discuss this further?" response.

 There's no excuse for not answering your email.

Not a good one at least. You are either sloppy, lazy, or undisciplined.  You don't need to let your time be wasted and you shouldn't feel threatened by not knowing the right response.  Email is just a conversation.  A discussion.  An opportunity to get to where you want to go.

There's no other way to say this: Answer Your Damn Email!

Don't run away from a conversation or feel threatened.  Be amazing. Stand tall. Be kind. Firm. In control. Keep heading towards where you want to be.