Harvard Business Review’s Email Rules

Spotted this in ExchangeEveryDay (exchangeeveryday@ccie.com ), and thought it worth passing along.

In a letter to the editor in Harvard Business Review OnPoint (Fall 2010; hbr.org), Rita Gunther McGrath shared “Rita’s Golden Rules for E-mail”:

  • Meaningful subject lines that tell the reader what to expect.
  • No e-mail should be longer than one screen of information.
  • One subject per e-mail.  When I’ve dealt with an item, I want to delete it.  I can’t do that if your e-mail contains 10 action items.
  • E-mail is the wrong place for emotional outbursts.
  • E-mail is the wrong place for communications of a personal nature.
  • Assume that everything you put in an e-mail could end up on the front page of the New York Times and be accordingly discreet.
  • Because you sent it doesn’t mean I got it.  Because I got it doesn’t mean I read it.  Because I read it doesn’t mean I understood it.  Because I understood it doesn’t mean I agree with you.
  • Don’t send an e-mail when a short phone call would do a better job.

Julie Wassom


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