3-Point Email Checklist Before you Send

Email: can't live without it, but damn! Spam and spam filters, the huge volume of email. There is the temptation to declare email bankruptcy. And I have seven email addresses I check regularly.

I'm still learning how to do email right. I'm guilty of the occasional gruff and cranky message, the unneeded extra message, being misunderstood, including too many people, or including too few. I've done the awkward and embarrassing thing of accidentally including the thread below a message and sending it to the wrong person.

So I was interested when somebody suggested three things to think about before you send that email. I'm borrowing this from another context — a speech — but it seems to fit.

1. Is it true?

A simple enough test. Of course if we get picky or technical, you don't always know, but come on, you really do. Truth is hard to figure in philosophy, not so much in business email. 

 2. Is it beneficial?

Will sending this email do any good for you, your business, your colleague, or anybody? Does it serve business objectives?

3. Is it Timely?

Timing makes a big difference. Is it too late for any action or result? Is it too early?

I've started watching now, and not all the emails I get, and not all the emails I send, meet this 3-point test.

I was going to suggest a fourth test — is it kind? — but that's a bit much in this context. Still, at least I mentioned it. And the thought brings up an interesting addition: the list doesn't include the problem of making people mad, or hurting their feelings, or making business enemies. What do you think: if it's true, beneficial, and timely, but is going to make somebody either very mad or very sad, do you send it anyhow?


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