Where I live, people fence their yards. Before the fence goes up, the homeowner decides whether the finished side, without the supporting posts showing, will go on the inside or the outside.
The essential question is this: Do I want my neighbors to have the attractive, finished view of my fence, or do I want to have it for myself?
At our house, we let our neighbors have the better view of the fence. We feel the satisfaction when we come home and see our house from the street.
The two sides of the fence remind me of email. Who has to finish it? The writer or the reader? If the writer does the work, the reader gets to see the finished side–a message that is clear, concise, and easy to read.
But if the writer doesn’t bother to finish the message, the work is left to the reader, who wonders: What is this about? Am I supposed to do something? What? By when? Is this important? Doesn’t the writer care enough to finish this for me?
Which side of the fence are you on? Do you offer your readers the pleasant, finished view of your message?
The U.S. poet Robert Frost wrote, "Good fences make good neighbors." What about good email?