Where Do You Send That Email?

An email exchange can be hard to navigate from behind a keyboard. Let’s visualize it a different way. You are on one side of a bar door. You’re about to open that door and look for a conversation. Even if you haven’t done this in real life, you’ve seen it happen in a movie. Imagine opening that door and walking inside.

There’s a whole lot of email addresses sitting on those stools and a bartender behind the taps. Where are you going to sit? Ignore your social anxiety – these are emails and not really people. Figure out what you want from this conversation. Why are you here?

Do you want someone to listen? Are you hoping for sympathy, an argument, or help fixing a problem? Do you want a meaningful relationship or a flirtation? If you aren’t clear on what you want, then how are you going to pick the right bar stool or the right email address?

What if you want to complain about something. Where do you write? Most organizations have a number of email addresses that you can use. Where do you send that email?

  • Writing to a general email address is like trying to talk to the bartender on a busy Saturday night. Expect a nod and your drink, in other words a form email response. That’s all there’s time for him to do. Maybe if you just want to have your voice counted that is enough.
  • Suppose you want to create change? Then you are looking for a meaningful relationship. How do you do that? Write emails to specific people. Ask questions. Listen as well as talk. Don’t yell. Maybe those people won’t have time to write to you, but maybe they will.
  • If what you want is to vent and get sympathy, then let’s face the hard facts. If you yell, you may not get the response you want no matter what email address you use. If you yelled at a person sitting on a bar stool, would you expect them to continue to listen and answer you reasonably? No.

So ask these questions before you hit send on that email. Why am I sending this email? What do I hope to achieve? Picking the right bar stool and opening line won’t guarantee the answer you want, but it will increase your odds.

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