Do you receive a business emails that are forwarded without any comment from the Sender? When this happens it typically leads to more questions having to be asked.
Do I take action?
Do you have a question?
Is your time more important than mine?
Why not take your time to type a nice greeting?
Why not include a simple sentence or two about why you are forwarding that information?
Advise Why You Are Forwarding
In the course of going through my daily consulting emails, it is not uncommon to come across a forward. I assume the Sender wants me to do something with the information within. But if I assume incorrectly, and that has happened, I’ve wasted my time. Darn.
As a consultant, if I assume incorrectly, I cannot bill out my time to redo or undo whatever I “incorrectly” integrated. So I do not make a move without further clarification. An unnecessary delay that can be avoided. Therefore, as a policy, I do not consider forwarded emails a “work order” or direction to take any action.
Smart Consultants Clarify First
I’ve learned this the hard way. “I didn’t know you would do all that…” or “I didn’t know what was involved…”. All because I took action based on the email they forwarded with no comment or direction. This is where including comments like: “Hey, Judith — can you check this out and let me know what is involved? Thanks for your help!” works wonders. Heck, it took me only a couple seconds to type that!
In most cases, I consider a forwarded email without comments an FYI. To be filed away for future reference. If the topic is that which I know requires immediate action, to avoid any possible misunderstanding, I will send a follow-up email asking for specific direction. As a result another email that can be avoided if the Sender let me know why they forwarded that email to me.
The moral of this story is…
Business email etiquette is not just thinking about how time strapped you are at the moment. It includes thinking about the person on the other side — who, by the way — is most likely just as time strapped as you are.
Professionals do not behave as if their time is more important than anyone else. The way to build solid business relationships is by not being “all about me”. You consider the other side in everything you do. You do that by taking the time necessary to type a simple sentence or two to make sure your requests are explained and understood.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
~ George Bernard Shaw