Suggested Email Guidelines

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by Tree Bressen

Recommended uses include:

  • community-building (borrowing items, ridesharing, etc.)
  • minutes distribution
  • announcements
  • logistics
  • factual information
  • background research & documentation
  • posting agendas
  • sending out drafts of proposals

Don’t try to use email for:

  • upset feelings
  • resolving interpersonal tensions
  • personal feedback about each other’s behavior–unless you know the recipient prefers that
  • discussions that have significant emotional content
  • revising proposals if there is any emotional charge
  • sarcasm

Other things to keep in mind about using email:

  • like any format, there are biases; for example, email privileges fast readers and typists, which often includes people who are more verbally articulate and express themselves in a linear way
  • remember that some people check email often, others occasionally, others not at all
  • use a clear subject line to help people filter what to read, because most people receive more emails than they can give good attention to
  • have alternate means of transmission available as needed (put minutes into a common notebook for the record, put a note in someone’s mailbox if they don’t do email, and so on)