Email confidential

Email is a wonderful communications tool. But its impressive efficiency has resulted in heightened communication throughput thus increasing workflow (one example of Jevons’ Paradox).

I encourage you to think twice before firing an email off to your Prof. or TA. Is your question answered on the syllabus? Is there a forum on Brightspace for posting questions so that all students benefit from the response? Is your question substantive and detailed (these questions are best asked in office hours or in class)?

Conversations after class and during office hours are more pleasant and useful than email and so I encourage you to use the ‘face-to-face’ platform whenever possible.

 It is generally good form to use formal titles when emailing professors (Prof. or Dr…). Usually their signature will alert you to their preference (if they sign off using their first name, then that is a cue that dropping the title is a-ok). ‘James’ works well for me.

 At the VERY LEAST please begin your correspondence with some salutation (Hello etc…). A one-liner question with no entry/exit salutation is easily interpreted as rude and will not help your cause. Even if your question is being sent from a smartphone please take the time to acknowledge the basic humanity of your interlocutor (Hello ______) before launching into a request of their time.

 If you are emailing with a frustration or complaint it is always best to sleep on it. Without the benefit of facial cues and tone it is easy for email to be mis-interpreted. Sensitive emails need to be carefully crafted to avoid unnecessarily escalating a situation.

 Finally if you are too drunk to drive a car, then back away from your device and reassess as sobriety returns.    

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