Email: A Double-Edged Sword

by Lewis Denbaum

This week, let’s look at email, which for most of us, is a huge part of our business lives. I have a love/hate relationship with email.

On the one hand, I love the power of being able to click “send” and knowing that my message will magically appear in the recipient’s inbox within seconds. I love being able to attach a document or photo or include a link to a website. And I love having the thread of all my emails to a particular person stored together for future reference.

On the other hand, I hate the barrage of emails that arrives in my inbox each day and the time I spend sifting through them deciding which ones I need to be delete, reply to or store. I hate when people include me in an email that is only slightly relevant to me. I hate when people keep the subject line the same and yet bring up a totally new subject in the body of the email.

Finally, I hate hasty, poorly written, unclear emails that cause me to send a reply asking for clarification. I believe we would all save a lot of time in the long run if we used the same amount of care in crafting an email that we used to use when we wrote letters (remember those?).

Below are some rules for better emails.

The Ten Rules of Email by Sharlyn Lauby

  1. Email is not a meeting substitute.
  2. Some messages are better voice-to-voice (whether that’s in-person or over the phone).
  3. Devise several auto-signatures.
  4. Change the subject line when you change the subject.
  5. Learn how to use the CC and BCC functions properly.
  6. Ineffective use of the “Reply All” button will kill your career. Same with Read receipts.
  7. Use the spelling and grammar checker.
  8. Not responding to an email is not the same as saying no.
  9. Set a reasonable expectation for replies.
  10. “I never got your email” isn’t a technology issue. It’s an avoidance technique.

For the for full text of Sharlyn’s article, please click here.

*This post originally appeared on LewisDenbaum.com.


Lewis DenbaumLewis Denbaum is the CEO, Chief Communication Consultant, Executive and Life Coach at Lewis Denbaum and Associates. He knows from firsthand experience that top-notch communicationskills are key to productivity, team building, employee satisfaction and company growth. He has developed and honed a range of effective communication techniques during his diverse career, spanning law and accounting, senior-level management, teaching and relationship coaching, that are applicable in any business environment. Connect with Lewis on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter @LewisDenbaum.