Going to work: email communication blunder

In Philip Galanes Social Qs column in the NYTimes (September 25, 2011) he suggests that the solution to an email miscommunication is Professional Snarkiness. Bad idea.

Q:  I’m very junior at my company, but meet with higher-ups, who appear not to read my e-mails. They often miss critical information, then send frantic e-mails asking why they have not been kept informed. I’d like to reply with a bit of bite: “As I e-mailed yesterday, the proposal will go out tomorrow.” Too much?
             Anonymous, New York City
A. Not at all!! Though I might add a touch of boot-licking, if I were you: “Please let me know if that schedule is convenient for you.”

Should this junior exec follow these instructions and engage in Professional Snarkiness, he or she is doomed. Galanes should have urged the junior to have a face-to-face conversation with the individual managers and to ask how they would like to receive information. They might suggest:
  • Changing the email subject to clarify the content
  • Using "urgent" mode
  • Copying the managers' assistants
  • Sending hard copy
  • Texting
  • Leaving voicemail to let the manager know that they information in coming in an email
Junior professionals should never, ever allow themselves to be managed by telepathy, nor should they imagine that their supervisors can read their minds.


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