Email Mindfully

Emails affect our health. Many people hold their breath when they read or reply to emails. This holding of breath, experts warn, causes "breath apnea."

"Breath apnea" is a medical term that means that there is a burden on your muscle that affects your inhalation.

According to Booher Research Institute, employees in the corporate world send and receive about 113 emails per day, consuming about 2 to 3 hours of handling. About one-third of an employee's daily hours are lost in reading, drafting and responding, forwarding, and deleting incoming and outcoming emails.

As John Freeman described in an insightful book, employees in the corporate world are overwhelmed and tyrannized by the volume of emails.

Have you received an email and after reading it, you pondered, "why am I receiving this?" or you were puzzled and confused "…but what does the sender want me to do", and "what would happen if I just delete this email and do not respond to the sender"?

You are not alone. According to a survey of the University of Northern Colorado on the Email Communication Habits, people in the corporate world reported that 35% of the emails they receive are irrelevant (emails sent to the wrong stakeholders) and redundant (emails' content already shared by someone else.)

Why does this tyranny happen? This tyranny happens due to the following.

1) Save the bacon: people send emails and unmindfully spare no one from the long list in the "To" and "Cc" line because they want to save their bacon. They think by listing these officials – mostly seniors and executives – they are legally and ethically protecting themselves that they did their work, and they let everyone aware. We should not use emails as evidence of doing our job- emails are not designed for that. Putting this or that person in the Cc or To lines will not help you in a court of law if there was negligence on your part as per your Job description and mandate.

2) Reply all. Some people know the difference between "reply" and "reply all," but they are indifferent between the former and the latter. It does not weigh on their consciousness if they say "thank you" or "welcome" to one person but copying everyone in the "To" and "Cc" line. It is not only about the seconds it will take to read the word "thank you" but about the traffic, the pressure to open the Email to see what is in it in the first place. Please save all the congratulatory and appreciative messages to the concerned staff only. Take the rest of the respondents out of the thread.

3) Inclusion is respect! Some people ask their staff directly or indirectly to copy them in everything they say or do. A manager who has ten employees reporting to him will have the content of their ten inboxes replicated into his inbox; in addition to his inbox filled out with emails, he has to decide on them: read, ignore, or delete. Did the organization hire the manager to read spend time reading ten inboxes?

4) Irrelevant Emails. These emails are sent to dozens of officials because the sender either does not know or did not do the homework to find out the specific stakeholders most relevant to the Email's underlying subject. Any email you see there are 15 in the "To" line, and 10 in the "Cc" know for a fact there is something wrong in there. The time of the organization and its resources would be wasted by exchanging messages among these people. There is rarely a case where a specific problem with a rectification objective and timeframe requires input and resolution with the same priority from all these people at the same time.

5) Hidden agenda. Some emails are sent to sing people praise, copying those who would amplify the sing to congratulate the specific buddies on the "miracles" achieved and the "unprecedented" success. There are no miracles. If you still believe in miracles, sing your praise with the people you think helped make the miracle. Leave the other people out as you are causing traffic on their inbox. On the other hand, some emails are sent full of insinuation. The sender wishes to send hot words to specific recipients he/she does not like, but to cover the base, other people are added in the To and Cc line to create the needed clutter. Emails are facilitated by your organizations to help you do your tasks and discharge your firm's responsibilities. Email is not a weapon.

6) Unresponsiveness begets follow–up emails. If you do not respond to emails of actions sent to you or do not acknowledge receiving them, you will receive follow up emails. Lack of simple acknowledgment "got it, thank you, I will revert with the action by this date" results in a waste of the firm's time.


1) If you send an email, be specific. Any email you write with no explicit action required you want the recipient to do is wasted resources. Please do not send it.

2) Do not send unmindful, empty-of-action, and empty-of-message emails to show your boss you are working.

3) If you do not know why each recipient is receiving your Email and what each one of them is supposed to do, do not include him/her.

4) Emails are not a casual chatting box. Limit your congratulatory statements. If you must, do not hit the "reply all."

5) Emails are not weapons. It is a communication tool. Do not send an email to recipient A if your message's target is B.

6) Emails are not a stage for a contest to flex your language muscles; it is a communication tool. Do not use phrasal verbs or idioms that some of the recipients might not be familiar with. If in doubt, if they know it or not, do not use it.

7) In Email, there is no winning or losing. And above all, everything should be looked at and geared toward the benefit of your organization.

8) Do not use the Cc to cover your base.