How I Eliminated Death by Email

Eight years ago, a strong group of leaders who served as my board of directors taught me a powerful lesson that I continue to use every single day in all of my online email. Though I am now running my own private company, this lesson continues to be relevant. Today I work with organizations and teams on reducing their overwhelm and developing boundaries. One of places organizations can find immediate relief is streamlining and reducing email.
Eight years ago I was using email as a way to stay connected and in touch with my board.  I was
keeping them informed, but my emails were long, covered lots of details, and meandered down rabbit holes.
My board did an intervention. They sent one very experienced leader to represent them. She said I was killing them by email. She explained my emails were like Easter egg hunts. They felt compelled to read my emails and it was hard to find the nuggets they needed buried in all the stories and hard to figure out what they needed to do or put on their schedule.
She offered me simple tips that I continue to use today.
Keep it brief, bare minimum.
Try not have more than 2-3 points maximum.
Use a list format rather than a letter format.
Call out in subject line what kind of email it is: Thank You ,  Follow-Up,  Reminder, Invite, Introducing you.
Those subjects still cover nearly all of the emails I send. 
Take a few moments and think about who you send emails to; your team, your customers, your business partners. What are your main subjects?
After reading a leader's 8-page letter to her team, I thought I would share the intervention that changed me.

Photo by Kate Remmer/Unsplash

So You Want to Talk about Race- GREAT READ

Who else has been reading, "So You Want to Talk About Race" by Ijeoma Oluo?
Here is a great boundary lesson from her in her book on page 48.
 "Do not force people of color into discussions of race. People of color live with racism each and every day with no say over when and how it impacts their lives. It is painful and exhausting. When people of color have the rare luxury to choose to not engage in additional dialogue about race, do not deny them that. Even if this discussion is really important to you, you never have a right to demand it. There will be other opportunities." 
Her words came as powerful teaching to me at just the right time.
I had attended an event, met a total stranger who was crying in the bathroom after she revealed a very painful experience of racism in an auditorium. I asked if she wanted to talk and she did not. As I got to connect with her more later, I wanted to ask her about the experience. I thought about her for days after the event and wanted to check in about what she experienced. I wanted to call her.

Please reread my words, I wanted.....
She did not want. She did not ask or invite me into that conversation.
I thought about Ijeoma's words from her book, and I understood, my desire to connect with her about what happened was not her desire.
She lives with racism every day. She lives with the impact and pain.
I was learning something so important about this boundary of not just going for what I wanted, what I thought mattered.
Wait. There will be other opportunities. I did not call her. I thought about the words above from Ijeoma.
The woman from the event eventually reached out to me on her own, a few weeks after the event. It was an invitation, she wanted us to get to know each other better. She didn't raise her experience that brought her to tears in the bathroom. And neither did I. Because I understood, she lives with this all the time.
As we continue to have important conversations about race, I am learning from Ijeoma Oluo about not "imposing" these conversations on people of color and being thoughtful about time, place, and interest in going into the conversation.
I highly recommend this book. it is obvious that Ijeoma Oluo has been in millions of these conversations and sheds light on patterns, and gives us some ways to move forward. Ijeoma Oluo is offering us some missing pieces and she fills in the large gaps that are essential for talking about race. The book is a guide, filled with stories and boundaries worth considering to have better conversations about race. And ultimately better relationships.