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The Connection Between WOL and Email

While several of the exercises in the first weeks of your Circle mention social media, and these tools do offer real benefits, using them is optional. The post below describes how any technology is a means to an end, not a goal in itself, and how you can Work Out Loud using traditional channels.

Blog: Working Out Loud over email or coffee

On More Effective Use of Email

“Six ways to write emails that don’t make people silently resent you,” by Jocelyn K. Glei 

“10 Ways to Write Better Emails,” by Alexandra Franzen

Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done, by Jocelyn Glei

On Dealing with Rejection or No Response

Blog: When someone doesn’t respond to you

Blog: “You can be a delicious, ripe peach and there will still be people in the world that hate peaches.”

On What Not to Share

Blog: When it’s not a contribution

On Intrinsic Motivation

The quote in Week 4 mentions intrinsic motivation, and Drive, by Dan Pink, is one of the clearest and most compelling summaries of research on why we do what we do. His TED talk is also excellent.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink

Related chapters in Working Out Loud:

  • Chapter 15 - How to Approach People

Additional Exercises & FAQ

Something you can do in less than 5 minutes

Even your last line of your email can be an exercise in empathy. For example, do you have an automatic email signature appended to your note? Or perhaps include “Best regards” or some other bland phrase out of habit?

Review how you sign off your emails now and decide whether you can make it more personal and authentic. For ideas, read the blog post, “Insincerely yours".

Something you can do in less than 10 minutes

My friend Amir calls it, “The Mindless Propagation of Links” (or “MPL” for short). It’s when someone shares a link on social media without any explanation about why they’re sharing it and how it might be useful. Instead, they leave that to the reader to figure out.

That’s not a contribution, it’s a burden.

Next time you take a look at one of your social media feeds, see if any of your connections are guilty of “MPL.” If you yourself have mindlessly propagated links, remember that personalizing what you’re sharing by adding context and the potential value to others can make a tremendous difference in how it’s received.

Q: I don’t understand part of The Inbox Empathy exercise. What’s the lack of empathy in the sample messages?

Part of the reason why email can be tricky is that we miss out on all the non-verbal cues that are part of a face-to-face exchange. Were they kidding? Were they in a hurry? Each person may be sensitive to different things in a message, and that can lead to all sorts of misunderstandings.

The main problem I see in all the sample messages, is that they focus on what the sender needs and wants instead of how the recipient might benefit.

  • “I have some time…”

  • “I value the opportunity…”

  • “I’d love…to pick your brain”

There aren’t terrible things to say, but they do reduce the chances of you getting the response you would like.

Examples, Templates & Media

Example: Tips for Sharing a Resource

Subject: Make it relevant to your main reason for sharing it, so the recipient has a good idea of what’s involved even before clicking on it.

Salutation: Address them as you would in person, and be sure to use the person’s name.

Body: Keep it as short as possible, and then edit to try and make it shorter. The exercise in Week 4 encourages you to include “appreciation, context, and value” in your note. You can usually do this in just a few sentences. Remember, they may get 100+ emails a day, so your clarity and brevity will be appreciated.

Personal sign-off: It may take you an extra 30 seconds to write a personal line at the end of your message, but think of it as another contribution of attention. Check the additional exercise this week and the blog post, “Insincerely yours” to help you improve the way you sign off your emails.

Subject: An article that might help your project

“Hi, Kelly.

I know you’re busy with your new project, and when I saw this article (link below) I thought it might be helpful. Check out the last section in particular.

Good luck with the project! If you need anything, I’m happy to help.