Email guidelines for the world.
The average human lifespan is 39,420,000 minutes.
When you send an email to someone, you are choosing to occupy a certain percentage of another human being’s precious minutes. Minutes they will never get back. The same is true in reverse—when people choose to write to you.
With most professionals and business owners receiving one hundred to two hundred emails a day, those minutes really add up.
What this means is that every email is an opportunity to be extraordinarily respectful.
If you are going to use up a portion of someone’s minutes, use those minutes wisely, thoughtfully, and with purpose.
Here are the “email-writing guidelines” that I personally try to follow. I hope you like them—and I hope they help to make your inbox a more inspiring place!
Email guidelines for the world.
: Be brief.
With every email, try to practice “Asteya.” Asteya is the yogic practice that means “non-stealing.” Try not to “steal” people’s time with unnecessary questions or careless, confusing language. Be precise and direct.
: Be self-reliant.
Do not email someone a question that Google can answer for you. Also, try not to email someone a question that your own brain / heart / gut / intuition can answer for you. Trust yourself.
: Be patient.
The world will continue to turn even if you do not receive an instantaneous response.
: Be compassionate.
Who knows what your email recipient is going through today? He could be grieving. She might be recovering from an illness. He could be reeling from a break-up. Everyone is fighting their own private battle. Try to be kind to everyone you’re corresponding with because you just never know…
: Be unattached.
When you’re writing to someone you don’t really know (sending a “fan letter” or an unsolicited invitation or request, for example) try not to “expect” a response. Tell yourself, “I am writing to say ‘hi’, to express my gratitude, and to make this person feel awesome. That’s my goal. If I get a personal response on top of that? That’s a fun bonus. But it’s not necessary.”
: Be chill.
Do not write emails when you are upset or frustrated. Wait. Cool down. Sleep on it. Then channel your inner Dalai Lama and go for it.
: Be done.
If you’re writing to deliver information, but you really don’t need a back-and-forth conversation, then say so. Conclude your email with the three most delightful words in the English language: “No response required.”
: Be a daymaker.
With every email you write, you have an opportunity to leave your reader in better condition than you found them. Be as energizing and uplifting as you can.
As Leo Buscaglia once said: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
The next email that you send can be, as Leo puts it, a small “act of caring” with the potential to turn someone’s day (or life) around.
: Be a role model.
Model the kind of communication that you want to see in the world. Lead by example. You teach people how to treat you. You also teach people how to communicate with you.
Include photos of baby ducks whenever possible.
That is all.
Be good to yourself & to others.
No response required.