Oscar Wong via Getty Images
Do not feel the need to always be the one to speak in emails.

Email is ingrained into our personal and professional lives. Still, we haven’t all mastered the communication method.

Some people have inboxes that are too cluttered, which can lead to important messages being lost or not getting a response. Some people overuse the reply option, and always have to reply to all emails. Truth is that you don’t need it. can be hard to knowWhen to stop an email back and forth

“In face-to-face communications, I ask you a question, you respond with the answer,” Jodi R.R. Smith, President of Mannersmith Etiquette ConsultingHuffPost, told a friend. “I signal your answer was heard by saying ‘thank you’ or by nodding my head or, if I am sullen teenager, by grunting. Three steps to complete the communication circle: inquiry ― response ― acknowledgment.”

It is possible to accomplish this same thing with texting, she said. One person sends a message, and the recipient replies. The original sender then indicates that the reply was received by using the reaction buttons or sending an emoticon.

“However, we do not have the thanks, nod, grunt, or thumbs up when we are communicating by email,” Smith said. “Which means we may find ourselves in a prolonged downward spiral.”

Indeed, we’ve all encountered an email back-and-forth that goes on much longer than is necessary for fear of seeming rude or unresponsive. However, there are some rules that will help people stop. Here are Smith and Barbara Pachter (authors of “The Essentials of Business Etiquette,”Share their tips.

Take care to keep the circle of communication closed.

“You can stop responding if the person doesn’t need to be thanked, or if you don’t need to let the recipient know you got the email,” Pachter said.

Let’s say you send an email to a professor asking a question regarding an exam. She replies with an answer. In this case, Pachter noted, it is polite to reply with a quick “thank you” to acknowledge that you received the information and show your gratitude for their time.

After that, there are no more messages. Professor knows that you have received the message. They are very grateful for it. The parties were on the same page, and both sides acknowledged the services provided.

“Recently someone requested some information from me,” Smith recalled. “I sent it to them. They replied with a ‘Thank you. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.’ I could have left it there, but wanted to be polite and wished them ‘I hope you have wonderful Thanksgiving as well.’ There was no need for them to reply with a ‘thank you.’ My email finished the interaction.”

Similarly, in replying to emails from readers seeking advice, Pachter said that after she responds to their inquiries, she appreciates a reply acknowledging or thanking her for her guidance but doesn’t expect anything beyond that.

“It doesn’t have to be a long response with a salutation,” she said. “Just saying ‘Thanks’ shows the message was received, and it only takes a second to read.”

Indeed, simple messages can suffice, and you don’t have to keep the thread going on and on.

“It is not about having the last word,” Smith noted. “It is about completing the communication circle by making sure the real and relevant information has been received. Once the reply is acknowledged, the communication can end.”

Take a look at the details of this exchange.

The situation may dictate the necessity for further responses.

“A long email stream about meeting on Saturday may pitter out without ceremony or a defined conclusion,” Smith said. “But a change of time from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. requires a response and an acknowledgement of the response.”

When someone emails about moving a meeting or brunch from one time to another, they need confirmation that you know the time has changed or they might worry the message wasn’t received.

Other factors, besides logistical requirements can also affect how you communicate.

“There are cultural differences between different countries,” Smith said. “There are variations in organizational culture and even by department.”

This could influence when you decide to stop responding. For example, Smith explained that someone in the shipping department might be able respond with a simple “K,” whereas those in client services may reply with, “Thank you for your prompt response.”

“And, of course there are power differences,” she added. “The CEO may end the email circle without concern, but the clerk might think thrice before hitting delete.”

Think about who you are talking to. If it’s a personal correspondence, it might be easier to shift the conversation to text or a phone call if you know they don’t check their email during the weekend, for instance.

Beware the “reply all-pocalypse.”

We’ve all been there. You’re included in an email thread with many other recipients and suddenly everyone is using the “reply all” button, spamming you with notifications.

“Unless everyone in that group needs to know your response, don’t reply all,” Pachter said. “If you need to reply, just reply to the sender.”

If you’re emailing about a group project and trying to figure out a good time to meet, then everyone does need to see your availability. But if someone is simply sending a training manual to a distribution list, there’s no need to send your “thanks” to everyone.

“If everyone on the email stream does not need the answer or does not need to be involved in arriving at the answer, it is totally fine to have a sidebar conversation including only those who need to be included, providing you let the entire group know the end result,” Smith said.

If you’re the original sender and need to make sure the entire group saw your email, you can make use of the read receipts function, rather than waiting for everyone to reply to you. You should only use it sparingly.

“Back in the early years of email, there was a consultant who sent Everywhere email to me with a read receipt,” Smith said. “That was excessive and annoying.”

On the other hand, you can make it clear when the information you’re sending is just an FYI and no reply is necessary. Whether you’re emailing a group or an individual, simplify the situation by noting when you don’t need a response.

If the conversation keeps dragging on, don’t be afraid to take the matter off email as well.

“You know the corporate joke about long, boring meetings that should have been an email?” Smith said. “Well, there are emails that should have been a meeting or a phone call. My guideline is that if I initiate more than three emails to the same person or people in an hour, chances are picking up the telephone and having a five-minute conversation will be quicker.”

Source: HuffPost.com.

Share Your Comment Below

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here