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How to Finesse Email Reminders

In an Email Intelligence class the other day, attendees brought up the question of reminders:

If something is due at 5 p.m., is it okay to email someone at 4 p.m. with a reminder?

What do you think? If you were working toward a 5 p.m. deadline, would you appreciate a 4 p.m. email reminder?

And if you were the person expecting the work, could you stop yourself from worrying about it before 5 p.m.?

A class participant proposed the ideal solution:

If you need something by 5 p.m., give a 4 p.m. deadline. That way, if you have not received it by 4, you can comfortably nudge the other person.

What is your opinion on reminders? Please share it.


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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.

4 comments on “How to Finesse Email Reminders”

  • Emailing reminders to an individual can communicate a lack of trust and can seem like micromanaging.

    Those problems are drastically reduced, however, if the reminder is sent to a group. If I am part of a group that receives a reminder, then I do not feel singled out as someone who could not get the job done if he did not get a reminder.

  • Treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. I know I certainly wouldn’t appreciate receiving an email like that!

    I agree that group e-mails take the sting out a little – but these are not always appropriate to the situation.

    I find it’s better to show some trust in the people you’re working with, at least until they’ve proved themselves undeserving of it!

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