This quote from writer Bill Bryson, in his book ‘Notes From A Small Island’, always makes me laugh:
“It has long seemed to me unfortunate […] that [communism] was left to the Russians when the British clearly would have managed it so much better.
[…] For a start, they like going without. They are great at pulling together, particularly in the face of adversity, for a perceived common good. And they will queue patiently for indefinite periods.’
Well, I think we proved Bill right this past week with the Great British Queue.
It had as much coverage as Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral itself.
Miles and miles of stoical Brits patiently waiting to pay their last respects to the Queen.
(I hear queue jumpers were taken to the Tower to be beheaded.)
But if we only applied this kind of patience to our emails!
All too often, we hit send when it suits us, but don’t think about the impact that timing might have on our audience.
For example, my daughter’s school sends out all their emails to parents late on a Friday afternoon.
Great for the school to push admin off their desks, sure, but by the time most parents get the emails they’re thinking about logging off and cracking open a beer, not doing admin.
And I’m sure this is why the school has to send out so many chaser emails when parents don’t fill out the necessary forms.
Timing also came up in one of my Email Engagement workshops recently. A manager shared her pet peeve of getting chaser emails from her team the moment she returned from holiday. It was like they bugged her suitcase and could tell the second she hit Heathrow airport.
It drove her crazy.
And, of course, most of us at some point in our careers have experienced THAT Sunday email from a boss that’s killed the mood of our whole weekend.
So, before you hit send, think about timing:
What’s the potential impact of sending this now?
Will it affect my chances of a response?
Is it the right time for my recipient?
Would it hurt to wait?
And with most email platforms allowing you to schedule emails in advance, you don’t even have to wait 12 hours like the queuers.
So tell me, have you received an email at the wrong time?