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Why Email “Read Receipts” are a Bad Idea


Robby

I feel like this is an Indianapolis epidemic, but I guess it’s just my inbox. It seems like more and more people in this down are using “read receipts” when they send an email.

What’s a “read receipt?” It’s a feature of your email program that allows you to get a notification (a “receipt”) whenever someone else opens the email you sent them.

read receipt

I can’t stand them. I always click “No” and deny the sender the right to find out when I read their message.
Why do I hate read receipts?  It’s because all they communicate is: “I don’t trust you.” They say: “I am not sure you are responsible enough to read my email, so I’m going to make you prove it.”

That’s an awful relationship to have with someone else.

Now, I’m not saying that verification and double checks are a bad idea. They are obviously really important for critical communication, such as the first time you send a message to someone. You also can benefit from this kind of mechanism whenever you are emailing someone an important document or a sensitive question.

But in either case, delegating the confirmation step to a “feature” seems foolish. You need human engagement. That’s why I always write the following text each time I write an email to a new contact:

Since this is our first email communication, can you please REPLY just so I know this message got through? I would hate to get stuck in your spam filters.

That’s really the same thing as a read receipt, except polite. It notes that there might be a technical problem.

Another example:

Since this email contains attachments, can you please REPLY to confirm receipt?

So here’s my message to you—Indianapolis professionals and beyond—stop using read receipts!

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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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Tue, October 23 2012 » Personal Organization, Technology Tips

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