With the advent of email, people have adopted a lot of new habits for communicating. It has become an essential part to daily life and business in general. Now that these technological advances are present, it can be difficult to understand how our digital communications impact us on a personal level.,
The “emails that get responses” is a blog post about the psychology of email. The article talks about how you should be careful when sending emails because sometimes people will respond to them and other times they won’t.
I’m sure the science underpinning email behavior is substantial, and I don’t claim to know anything about it from a factual sense. The majority of my email-based ideas and assumptions are guided by intuition, with a dash of instinct and a sprinkle of information gathering thrown in for good measure.
I’m guessing that most individuals fall into my group – that is, if they consider email to be anything other than a means of communication.
Kaitlin “Ducky” Sherwood, on the other hand, is not one of them. You may read her whole bio by clicking on her name, but I’ll give you enough information to get you started. She’s published two books on dealing with email overload, served as the first Webmaster at the University of Illinois (during the Mosaic founding days), and just graduated with a master’s degree in computer science.
I got to spend an hour on the phone with her, aggressively soliciting her opinion on email and gently dipping my toes into her ideas on Email Center Pro.
Sherwood talks with confidence and conviction on a wide range of issues, however she focused most of her emphasis on email for my needs. Much of the discussion focused on the fact that the ideal email system does not yet exist. The reason for this is because no supplier is satisfying all of Sherwood’s requirements, many of which having to do with moving through email rapidly and effectively in a suitably ordered manner.
She giggles at the idea of “Inbox Zero,” a popular concept that fools individuals into believing they’ve dealt with all of their communications just by clearing their inbox. Have they, however? Has that communication channel been fully handled, or has it merely been relocated from one location to another in order to better manage the guilt associated with 100 unread messages?
Sherwood supports the latter, claiming that the psychology of viewing “0” as an Inbox tally is given undue weight in relation to good email management as a communication tool – in other words, generating a false feeling of security.
Sherwood goes on to say that much of this is motivated by a desire to achieve flawless filtration. Users who are continually attempting to compartmentalize the numerous buckets of information that pour into their Inboxes waste time that cannot be regained by the ease of “more readily” scrolling through those folders.
In essence, given the presence of a super-powerful search tool, filters/folders/etc. are ineffective ways of organizing data. With nearly unlimited data storage, it’s no longer practical to attempt to arrange things the way we used to when file cabinets stored all of our important documents. I may waste a week hunting for a single document if I don’t have adequate paper management. Now all I have to do is put “2006 tax returns” into the search field, and presto!
In light of this, it’s reassuring to know that the architecture for version 2 of Email Center Pro, which is due out in the next weeks, includes a sophisticated search feature.
So, how do you feel about the psychological implications of email? Do you have trouble keeping up with the onslaught of emails? What approach do you use to keep track of your inbox?
Product Marketing Manager Jason Gallic [email protected]
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The “how to write an email to get a response” is a blog post that discusses the psychology of email. The article talks about how people respond to emails differently, and how you can use this information to your advantage.
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