E-mail was a newer toy back in the early '00s.

Back in 2003, I wrote a grad school paper that analyzed the flaws of e-mail communication: how our content and tone can lead to people getting a different meaning than what we intend – and how the results can be disastrous!

Now, that was back when we didn’t yet use handhelds to converse with friends and colleagues. We were still mainly using online Webmail or some kind of ‘e-mail client’ such as Outlook.

So we still hadn’t established so many of the conventions we now use to send words across the ether: No emoticons, shortcuts for txtng or little graphical additions to clarify our intent. We had to rely much more on the tone of our messages to ensure we got across the way we wanted.

What’s this got to do with the Save button?

Lots.

Through much embarrassing trial-and-error of my own, I’ve learned something about e-mail: One should never fire off a hastily-typed message about something important right away.

Okay, maybe you’ve got one of those jobs where you barely have time to pee, let alone think through every important message before hitting Send. But really, even (and maybe, especially) you will benefit from making the Save button your friend.

Anyone who’s lost a long document because they didn’t save their changes can tell you that the Save button is aptly-named: it even saves your *ss if you’re working under a tight deadline!

Save is your friend, before you click Send…

The same goes for e-mail. Taking a few more seconds to review your message before clicking Send will help you catch more than just typos – you may also often find that you’ve forgotten to enter something critical that would really have helped them understand better. And if you’re like me, you may also realize that you’ve included far more info than they need or can use at that time.

So see if it works for you. Here’s how:

  1. Blast out your message, fingers a-flying.
  2. Click on Save (and minimize if you need privacy)
  3. Go get a tea or your chosen consumable.
  4. Come back and re-read, with a refreshed focus.
  5. Edit as needed. Then – and only then – click on Send.

After repeating these steps a few times, you may also find yourself reconsidering whether to send the message at all (really!). It could be that you actually don’t need to respond until you have more time or information. And after all, with all the info we don’t need that we all already receive, this could mean you’re doing someone a favour by not sending it.

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