Your Colleagues Don’t Read Anything You Write (NYT)

TL;DR: Improve your email writing skills so that colleagues will read your stuff!

OK, this is distressing. Just like the statistic that 1/3 of prescriptions are never even filled by patients (what?!), turns out colleagues really don’t read your emails. Pause here, and just feel that surprise and disappointment seep in.

Take a breath. Ok?

Having read Bit Literacy a few years ago, a digital riff on Getting Things Done, I have always known there are better ways of handling the email deluge. For example: the Eisenhower box: Do it, Decide to Schedule it, Delegate it, Delete it.

from jamesclear.com

Also the idea that there are URGENT things, and NON URGENT things, and IMPORTANT things and NON IMPORTANT things. Email tends to be the URGENT and NON IMPORTANT and we all have long term strategies that are NON URGENT and IMPORTANT, and how do we move our daily work from one to the other. This is the story of my life.

However, in the service of improving email communication, Mr. Orendorff, of the New York Times updates the best-practices of WRITING emails to improve your chances of being read and being effective. My favorites:

  • Make the Subject Line useful: REPLY REQUESTED: thenyoursubjecthere or FYI ONLY: thenyoursubjecthere. Even better, if I can possibly ask my question or make my statement really short, I write it entirely in the subject line and end with my initials, signalling there is NOTHING in the email body.
  • Write a TL;DR. Cool internet slang for Too Long; Didn’t Read. As an internal medicine physician, I’m always guilty of being over-explanatory. Write the extra short summary at the end of your email AND THEN if you did well with that last part, you can DELETE your original email and ONLY SEND the TL;DR. Good job!

CMIO’s take? Read the article and change your life (and your colleagues lives) Today!

Author: CT Lin

CMIO, UCHealth (Colorado); Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine

One thought on “Your Colleagues Don’t Read Anything You Write (NYT)”

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