Show Inbox Mercy With Proper Email Etiquette

Sometimes a text--or, gasp, an in-person meeting!--is a more humane way to communicate.

Dharmesh Mehta, senior director of, has already been extremely helpful with our inboxes.

He's taught us how to manage an unruly inbox, and about the different kinds of email personalities.

So let's move on to perhaps the most delicate inbox issue of all: email etiquette?

Here's the scenario: You've got a friend, let's call him Dan, who you want to communicate with. Do you shoot him an email, call him, Skype him, or set up a lunch date?

According to Mehta, it's important to remember that email isn't the only way to keep in touch.

"An important aspect of email is that it's just one form of communication," he says. "Sometimes I don't want to do anything digitally, I just want to see you in real life and interact with you. It's important to know how to shift between these."

Dharmesh Mehta

If you need to reach Dan urgently, an email is not the best mode of communication. But it does allow Dan to work at his own pace and not feel rushed.

"That might be today, that might be tomorrow, or four weeks from now," Mehta says. "Dan's a busy guy, and it lets him decide."

Mehta recommends that when choosing a mode of communication, it's important to weigh your options, and aim for the most appropriate. Ideally, sending an email should create a personal experience and enrich your relationships.

"Different modes of communication for different things you want to do," he says.

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  • Bluesybrews

    I'm always amazed when people send me an email for something they need urgently.  Would you email the Fire Department that your house is on fire?

  • Tim Woods

    Probably not, but people do it because they want an audit trail and most people tend to "be in meetings" or put their phone on DnD (Do not disturb).  

    How do you suggest that you get the attention of someone who doesn't have the same set of priorities as you? That's where influence and the like comes in - and you can't get that through e-Mailing a person -- that takes rapport and a strong relationship.