“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This week’s post is by procrastinator extraordinaire, Allan Bader

Although most of us use email on a daily basis, they have only been around since the early 1990s. And although this is a lifetime for people entering the job market, the rules and etiquette around email writing are not as well established as letter writing.

I remember from my primary school days, and I hope I don’t get this wrong, that in a letter you write the date in the top right-hand corner. Leave a line. Write your own address. Leave a line. Now you move across to the left-hand side and write your salutation to the recipient of said letter. Leave a line. Then get in to the meat of the letter.

Emails are not like this as there is no need to write your own address. All the recipient has to do is simply hit the “reply button”, or even the “reply all” button, which can be a no-no on occasion.

In this blog, I have provided a few links to some articles that give guidelines on how to “behave” when using email.

Some of them are valuable, some of them are a little dated and some of them should take a lesson out of their own thinking and not have “57 ways to streamline your email writing”!

A former boss at Etana Insurance company, had sent our business unit a link to a way to manage your emails. It included things like using EOM (End of Message) in the subject line, NNTR (No need to respond) at the end of the mail and my particular favourite; “there is no need to reply thanking someone” as this clutters their mail box.

This one, which happens to be the most recent one from December 2018, I feel is the best.  What do you think?

While I was conceiving this blog, something also reminded me of my former life as an insurance underwriter. I would get a phone call from someone, generally a broker, and the first thing they would ask after the greetings were out the way, was; “did you see my mail?” I would ask them when they had sent it, thinking it was hours ago and I had somehow missed it. Their response was generally; “no, I just sent it now”.

I’m sure this has happened to some of you and I’m doubly sure you want to let rip into them to explain that; “no, I haven’t seen it as it has just arrived in my inbox. I will read the contents and respond accordingly.” Sometimes in a polite manner, others, not.

Why do that!

It’s a similar reason as to why I do not have my voicemail activated on my cell phone.

My thinking on this is that the answering machine was invented for those periods where you were either not at home or at work and no one could get hold of you. Remembering that cell phones were not around when the answering machine was invented. Leaving a message was a way for the caller to let know they had tried to contact you and that they would either call you back or request you to call them. It wasn’t for leaving detailed messages, which they would then require a response for. The meat of the conversation would be discussed or debated when the return call was made.

So why do I say I my voicemail is deactivated? Well, if someone calls me and I miss the call, there are two things that I can deduce. I have their number in my contacts, I can see who it is and will call them back to engage with them on the reason they called. Or, I do not have their number saved and they will call me back, if it is important.

Why have the option for them to leave a long-winded message or even a message saying “hi, it’s Bob. Please call me back”

And this leads onto my next point. (@Gianluca Tucci, this is the part I said influenced this section in the blog). I was on a long phone call last week. I heard the familiar beep in my ear indicating someone else was calling me, I had a look and saw it was Gianluca. I continued the existing call. A minute later, I heard the beeps again. Once again, I checked who it was and saw it was Gianluca. I continued my existing call until completion. When looking at all the messages and Whatsapps that had come through during my long conversation, I saw that I had a WhatsApp from Gianluca, with the contents stating, “please call me”. Now isn’t this a little superfluous?! I already have two missed calls from you, so why send me a message asking me to call you. I can see you’ve called me. There is a reason I didn’t answer the call. I will call you back.
Side note: I’m sure there are plenty things that I do that annoy Gianluca and other mates.

So, in this day and age, when a lot of us are always online. Take a second to put yourself in the other persons shoes, the recipient of your email or message and think if you would like to have your precious time taken up by those extra few seconds more by reading an unnecessary email or listening to a voicemail.