Clean Up Long Email Threads With Clear Language

Clean Up Long Email Threads With Clear Language

By the time an email missive makes the rounds and comes back to the manager, it can be a cluttered, confusing mess. The Wall Street Journal recommends a few solutions for cutting down and cleaning up an email with a succinct reply.

Hard-to-follow email is one of Google Wave’s best use cases, but unless the corporate world adopts Wave en masse tomorrow, we’re all going to get lots of >>>> in our inbox for a while to come. If you’re a team manager, or just the person in charge of putting a multi-reply, multi-forward email thread to bed, the Journal suggests some syntax and message massaging that might do the trick:

  • State your position clearly, even if context follows below in the email string. “Yes” helps less than “Yes, you can have the extra funding to hire 5 temporary workers.”
  • Summarize the discussion to date: “See below: R&D is looking for more time but Sales risks losing customers if we don’t act now.”
  • Force focus when necessary: “Let’s focus on cost now and revisit the morale and equity issues at our staff meeting next week.”
  • Change subject lines cautiously. Tighter, more relevant subject lines work best, but even one letter’s difference upsets inbox sorting mechanisms.
  • Cut extraneous or repetitive information.

Hit the link for nine more ideas in being a better email manager, and share your own wild email taming tips in the comments.

Top Ten Mistakes Managers Make With Email [WSJ.com]

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