We all know that feeling. You’re cruising into the weekend, tying up those last tasks, feeling good about the week. Then BAM. An email enters your inbox and totally kills the vibe with one poorly thought-out sentence. Sometimes it’s been phrased poorly, sometimes the timing is the biggest bummer, and sometimes you just have to wonder about the person on the other end.
I have some concerns about XYZ, let’s set up some time to discuss. (without any context for what those concerns may be or their seriousness)
Anything that leads with “There’s nothing to worry about but...” If you have to tell me not to worry, I’m definitely going to worry.
Here’s a large project for you to do, can you have a draft by Monday morning? A classic.
Can you call me when you have a moment? No other content. Particularly stressful from your boss.
Being accidentally included in the reply-all when it’s about you. OK, this is bad any day of the week, but not being able to check in with a close colleague or get an apology email until Monday can definitely be stress-inducing.
See below. (when below is 30 back and forth emails from a variety of respondents and no clear point, and you have no idea what you’re supposed to see below or do about it, but it doesn’t look good)
Nothing attached? When you’ve already left your desk for the day and can’t get to the file without opening your laptop back up.
And one bonus! The worst one you can get on Monday?
Any update on this? (following up on an email from Friday)
Most of these examples, at their core, lack empathy. The sender isn’t thinking about how the recipient is going to react when they receive these emails. Given the technology available to us, like automatic scheduling and alternate, less-formal modes of communication like Slack, we should all be able to be more careful about dropping an unthinking bomb in someone’s inbox. So next time you’re writing an email on Friday afternoon, take a second to think how the recipient might feel about your message heading into the weekend. Schedule it to send Monday, provide necessary or reassuring context, or just leave it to simmer in your drafts.