A Machete for the Email Loop

Monday, November 13, 2023

Image by Alexandre Saraiva Carniato, via Pexels, license.
As valuable as email and other electronic communications are, they can sometimes cause unnecessary delays. Josh Thompson gives the common example of someone seeking a green light from his boss:
Let me know if my criteria are sound, or if you have any concerns. I'd like to get started as soon as possible.
Thompson then invites his readers to try a different turn of phrase the next time that situation arises:
Unless I hear otherwise, I'm going to start reaching out to the clients that meet my criteria for this research.
The second choice can obviously save several days.

I've done things like this before, in situations that fall into the following two categories: (1) Getting permission when I'm emailing would really be redundant, based on previous discussion, or -- more rarely -- (2) I felt safe operating under the premise that it would be, as they say, easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission.

I don't necessarily recommend following my example in that second type of situation. But I am also hesitant to recommend the second kind of email, at least as the default, despite the fact that Thompson claims "nothing but positive feedback."

It does bear consideration much of the time, and especially when asking for approval would be redundant and only slow things down: This phrasing is a diplomatic way to say, I'm getting started now en route to getting to work.

If there is any doubt you'd get your boss's blessing on getting started, though, I'd use a more immediate form of communication if there is a time constraint of some kind, or maybe just use the original type of phrasing..

-- CAV


Greg said...

Or you could use that old fashioned technology, the telephone, and speak to him directly.

Gus Van Horn said...