How much time do you spend deciding who to reply, forward, and cc on each email message? Do you find yourself sending lots of follow up/clarification emails because you forget to say something important or your original message is not clear? If you spend very little time thinking before you hit the “Send” button, I want to challenge you to change your habits. Every task, even one that seems as simple as replying to an email should be done with some thoughtfulness. I am not suggesting that you spend a large amount of time but I am recommending that before you do each task you think about what you are doing, why you are doing it, and who will be impacted. This thinking ahead (dare I say planning), improves your productivity and those with whom you communicate. These are the core skills that make an excellent Business Analyst.
It is always easiest to support a recommendation with examples of what happens if you don’t take it. For example: What happens if you reply to an email which is discussing a project and you forget to CC the Project Manager? It may cause the PM to be out of the loop and he or she may make other decisions without full knowledge. What happens when you send an email to a group of people asking for a response and no one replys because everyone hopes that someone else will do it?
In addition to whom you are communicating with, you must be very clear about the reason for the message and your expectations for a response. If you are just providing information, make it clear that no response is required. Who wants to get email messages that just say “Thanks for the info?” If you need a response be clear about 1) what you need, 2) who you expect to respond, and 3) when you need the response. You will find that being clear about expectations makes your life easier. So the few moments that you spend “thinking before you send” will payoff with much greater time savings when you are getting your messages the next day.
And of course, be polite and be concise. As many times as we say it, no one wants to read long email messages. If you need to have a conversation with someone, schedule a time. There are many communications that don’t work well via email.