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Email Communication: Minding the Thread!

We're deluged with email communications on a daily basis and that's not going to change anytime soon.

If you're like me, you're working on multiple projects with multiple clients (internal or external) and there's a lot of back and forth emails between parties to get a project started, move a project forward, go through review processes and approval processes to complete a project.

And, that's where subject lines get tricky!

Too often I'm experiencing getting emails where the subject line does not match the content of the email. And most often (unless the email is urgent) I immediately move that email communication out of my "inbox" and into the correct client email file so I can read and respond when I have time to focus on the message and respond accordingly.

I think what's happening is that people are so quick to hit that reply button when they get an email (to get it out of the way), they don't take those few moments to change the subject line as the thread of conversation changes.

Here's an example: I send an email where the subject line says "Newsletter Review/Draft 1".

I get a reply from the client that says "RE: Newsletter Review/Draft 1".

Guess what? The content in the email response has absolutely nothing to do with the review of the newsletter. Rather, it contains information about an unrelated project that the client just happened to be thinking about and had to send to me lest they forget their thoughts (understandable; I too suffer from "over 50" syndrome).

One day, two days, a week later...The client asks what I think about the project...I jump to their email file.

Guess what? There is NO EMAIL with a subject line referencing that project!

So my choice is to go through emails one at a time quickly scanning the email content or ask the client to resend the email or even worse, ask the client to clue me in again on said project.

And all could have been avoided by simply taking a few seconds to change the subject line.

So, the next time you change gears in your email message from whatever the original thread was, stop yourself before hitting send and take a look at that subject line...

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