Writing emails

This is a post for PMs only. High risk of PM tricks and manipulations techniques been uncovered.

No doubt, PMs write a lot of emails every day and this is one of the main communication channels for us. As we are trying to communicate more verbally now – emails are usually used for discussion of some important topics with boss, customers, users, etc. – situations, when PM should be rather careful with language and phrases he uses in emails πŸ™‚ So it is time to switch on your brains and create the text, that can be understood by the person on the other end.

Email wars

Managers are real fans of email wars. I usually like reading the long email threads, where I am in “Cc:”. Just take popcorn and enjoy. Someone starts the discussion, the opponent is clearly against, so he answers quickly and ruthlessly to the original message. If you are sitting near to that opponent in the office you can hear him crying out “What an idiot! I’ll explain him now” and then his fingers banging on the keyboard very loudly. Sometimes this thread can live for a long time – until someone is killed πŸ™‚ Opponents forget about the issue, they start discussing persons.

32Good advice here can be to write emails the way you would like them to be written to you.

PMs usually have the similar game “Be the first to blame”.

Imagine that you are the PM of one of the 2 teams working on the project. When something is wrong ant there is a huge risk you’ll receive the angry email from the customer in 10…9…8… – hurry on, write an email and blame the second team! No doubt, it is their fault.Β  Sounds similar? Even if later you’ll discover it was your team’s fault – customer will remember that you were the first to talk about the issue πŸ™‚

PMs are using this technique even is there is no second team – just blame the client side πŸ™‚

Good tip here will be remind yourself what is your main purpose – develop the product, solve the issue, not secure yourself. The day PM starts worrying more about securing himself than about the product – he dies and becomes a zombie.

All emails are urgent

If all emails from you have flag “Ugrent”, “ASAP!!!!!” – people will stop paying attention to that. Use the urgent status wisely.

Long mail threads

I think, there is no point to mention, that long email threads – over 20-50 emals in a chain are rather heavy to work with. Yes, everything is in one place, but when someone starts cross linking in this threads – it becomes a real hell.

Let’s imagine the situation. You have a long email chain – over 10 “Re:Re:Re….” and discussing some very important question. After receiving the next opponent answer you realize that you need to involve one more person into this discussion. What do you do? You add this person in “To:” and write “Hi Ivan, we need your support on this topic. Can you help us with this server installation?”. I bet, you do this, as I did it a lot of times πŸ™‚ Ivan is really happy to receive this email – he has to look through all the thread…Usually, Ivan prefers to put this task aside, have a cup of tea.

30

The most diligent can write you the answer “Dear Galina, Please describe the issue you have with the server, so I can support you in finding the solution.” 90% will answer you with the silence. Hope, you understand now, why πŸ™‚

Emails formatting

When I see a not formatted email – I want to kill someone. Actually, it’s one of the reasons I never keep folks or spoons on my desk – I am afraid of finding it in the eye of the person sitting next to me in the room.

Please, don’t use capital letters for phrases in your emails – I think that you shout at me in the email.

Don’t wait, reply

Even if there is no result yet – reply that you received the email and now you are working on that. People will praise you for knowing the status. Clients will be happy to know, that you are in progress rather than wait for a week and receive “done”. Moreover, if you received some task and started working on it, but not informed the sender – sender can start doing it by himself, as you are not answering.

31The same is for statuses, updates which you write to the client. More information you’ll give them – the more relaxed they will be.

Thant is all I have to say for now πŸ™‚

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