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Feeling Ignored? Blame Email

If you have sent an important email message in the last 10 days and not gotten any response, this post is for you. I want you to know that:

1. Your web designer does care about you and your site, but

2. Your friend is eager to have lunch and catch up, but

3. Your boss or client would love the proposal. It’s just that

None of them received your message! The email simply didn’t reach them.

I don’t know the percentage of email that never reaches its intended reader. But with spam blockers, firewalls, programs that refuse to communicate with one another, static electricity, over-burdened servers, and who knows what else, chances are you (and your intended recipients) are missing some email each day.

So before feeling blue and looking for a new web designer, friend, boss, or client, pick up the phone to check in. I’m betting you will find that these people have been waiting to hear from you.

And if by chance they did receive your email and haven’t responded, it’s that they have been traveling, swamped, or dealing with an illness. Be kind. Call them. They want to hear from you.

Life is good.

Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

One comment on “Feeling Ignored? Blame Email”

  • If ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, then the patrons of our artful ideas need to be considered before we put any paint on our canvas. In fact, our viewpoints may be of little worth to others if we aren’t first commissioned. Once we are, we can put focus and definition into our presentation. Only then can we speak to the heart of our audience.

    Really, shouldn’t ANY communication should regard the audience highly? It should also recognize that ‘point-of-view’ and ‘relevance’ is always subjective. How to speak to, or perhaps should I say, ‘with’ a group requires knowing something in advance about who they are and what they like or need. Ultimately, we want people to see themselves IN our picture not outside of it.

    In media-buying the buzz words ‘demographic’ and ‘psychographic’ are used to qualify a group or audience. Companies like Arbitron compile data to determine audiences and the content that addresses them in a general way. Demographics give us physical characteristics. Psychographics give us more qualitative attributes. The combination provides an insight that will provide direction of thought and afford economy of expression in our message.*

    What does that mean? Simply put, our interactions need to be positive and purposeful with due respect for the audience. They are after all giving us THEIR time. What purpose there is in listening to ourselves speak would be questionable at best. An adage that I often reflect on goes this way, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’.

    Assuming that is true, we need to find ways to position ourselves as a useful resource to those we choose to address. that would dictate a consultative posture that would require relevant features, advantages and benefits to the specific queries, needs or interests of our target audience. Once our message is defined and neatly sketched out, we create a ‘meeting of the minds’ and we begin speaking to the heart. Now, we can proceed to fulfill both the needs and desires. Isn’t that what it takes if we want to motivate people?

    Two questions still remain:
    How much information is too much information, and how do we present it? To me the choice is like going to a fastfood joint and getting ‘super-sized’ or an establishment that recognizes my digestive sensitivity. For the sake of comfort, I definitely prefer ‘light and tasteful’. To further the analogy, if we’re entertaining we want to make our guests feel comfortable and at home. In terms of our presentations, isn’t that a great way to approach any audience?

    Is there any research anyone has found to substantiate my preference? By the way, what are yours?

    We can chat about it sometime at the following address if you like. If so, just paste it into your browser:

    And, fianlly just a quick ‘kudos’ to the Editor-in-Chief: Great job Lynn!
    Feel free to markup my writing anytime! I’m working on simplicity, brevity and clarity- always a challenge.

    *Some relevant research:(Google-Philip Kotler)

    1. To reach an audience we use this textbook formula for emphasis, RxF=I or, Reach times Frequency equals Impact.
    2. It’s been shown that three relevant and direct impressions (cognitive, evaluative, responsive) need to be made to guarantee any response.
    3. One bad impression can take as many as three times the number of positive impressions to offset the negative impact.
    4. The most effective marketing is client-driven rather than product-driven.

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