Did they really write that?

Email has made it very easy to send communications. Unfortunately, this has also made it very easy to send bad communications (I am intentionally not saying “to communicate” but rather to “send communications”)

Through a soccer web site I started 12 years ago or so, I write the content for newsletters that get sent out daily to over 120,000 subscribers over the course of a week (different newsletters get sent to different lists each day). Some of the emails I receive are fascinating for various reasons. I get a lot of “thank yous” and a lot of questions and each of these are appreciated and responded to (within reason). On the other hand, I also get a lot of emails that make me really wonder “did they really write that?”

Just as I do on the posts for this blog, I end every newsletter with my name (Lawrence). I’m not sure why I get so many emails that start with “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam”. These aren’t mass emails but rather specific emails asking questions about content written in the newsletters and sent to my email address.

One email I received recently complained about a guest written article I sent out. The emailer wrote “you are NOT to let this person guest write any more emails as this was complete garbage”. He then went on to explain how he enjoys what I write but this guest written article was terrible and he explained the section he disagreed with. Interestingly, if he had fully read the article, the section he was disagreeing with was a quote not from the guest writer but from me. That wasn’t the real issue. The real issue is he signed the email “Me”. Why would anyone take the time to write an email and sign it “Me”? It wasn’t written anonymously because his email address showed his name but what little credibility he had was removed by the name.

Many of the emails I received are signed “Coach John” or “Coach” or something similar. Is “Coach” really their name? Does the plumber sign his emails “Plumber”? Are they so insecure in their position that they have to make sure people know their “title”?

While I certainly understand the occasional spelling or grammar error (how could I not since I make so many myself?) but if you send an email that is completely incomprehensible, do you really expect a response? When someone sends an email using the same type of wording and spelling they might use in a text message to a friend, do they think they are going to be taken seriously?

When someone makes a demand, instead of a request, do they truly believe their demand will be honored? Just the other day, I received an email from someone saying their computer crashed so “you need to send me every newsletter you have sent out in the past 6 years”. Keep in mind, that would be around 1350 newsletters in that time period. If they had requested help there might be something I could do but to tell me what I need to do is a bit ridiculous.

It’s not unusual for someone to send a nice email, written politely with a simple question. I try to respond quickly and frequently I get another email back with a big request. For example, I might get an email asking for a recommendation for an activity to do with a team to work on team defending. I respond with a suggestion and next I’m being asked to design the teams entire training program for the year. One email exchange doesn’t make us friends. One email offering help doesn’t mean you are then entitled to unlimited support.

Another type of email I receive is the one that says something similar to “I am a long time subscriber to your newsletter so was wondering if you would be willing to donate…” They are really saying “I have been getting quality information for free for years so now feel you should be willing to give me something for my organization.

The purpose of this post isn’t to vent about what others write but rather to encourage you to think about what you might be writing to others. Keep in mind that communication is a two way street and if you write something that the other party doesn’t understand, there isn’t communication going on there. If you are polite and respectful, the chances are you will get a much better response than if you are rude and demanding.

If you send an email or letter, include your name. If you aren’t willing to include your name, why bother sending it in the first place? I can’t speak for others but I don’t take anonymous emails very seriously.

If you do have a preexisting relationship, mention it. If I get an email from a player who I coached on a team or at a camp, I will spend more time trying to be helpful than if I don’t know the person at all. However, because of the number of players I have worked with over the years, it truly helps if someone reminds m

If you can, turn it into a win/win situation. If you are asking for something, is there anyway you can make it appealing to the other side as well? If so, you will get a much better response.

My main point is, give some serious thought to your communications. Email (and other electronic means of communications) have made the process much easier but frequently the content of the communications just isn’t good enough.

Have a great day!


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