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Email and Fencing


Robby

Whether you’re a fan of the sport or just happen to catch late night clips when you’re getting ready for bed, anyone can appreciate some well-choreographed swordplay between two masters. One of my favorite parts of these battles is not just the skill or the elegance, but the honor of the participants. They both follow strict rules and only use one weapon.

When well-executed, email has some similarities. The best episodes are all quick parries and strikes and end with a final blow. Once the point is earned, the parties bow and move on. Nothing lingers and both contestants improve as a result.

We’ve all exchanged emails that lack the precision of fencing match. Sometimes, instead of staying to just one point we have emails that carry on a half dozen different conversations at one time. Sometimes we leave messages hanging around in a mailbox for weeks or even years, thinking we might want to have the chance to resume the match. This is no way to fence, and no way to communicate.

Keep your emails to just one topic. If someone sends you a message with three distinct questions or action items, consider responding with three individual emails! Once a message comes in and a task is decided, respond with one final confirmation. Then delete the message. The point has been earned. The match is over.  What is your experience?  Have you found this working?  Do you have a nightmare story where you wish you had?

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Mon, March 14 2011 » Personal Organization, Technology Tips, Time Management

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