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3 Ruthless Email Responses to Achieve Inbox Zero

3 Ruthless Email Responses to Achieve Inbox Zero
    Take an axe to your inbox with ruthless responses.

    I’ve become an email killer.

    It’s not that I hate email, it’s that I hate email backlog. It happens to the best of us. We save emails that we can’t initially reply to yet, we hold onto emails that we want to dive into at a later date and we keep emails as a reminder of an action we have to take. The result is usually a very full inbox staring back at us as we try to get the stuff done that actually matters.

    I’m not saying that individual emails don’t matter; often they contain information or are from people that do matter. What I am saying is that email as a whole doesn’t matter. Living in your inbox dwelling with your emails is like hanging out at the post office trying to do other work while you wait for your mail to arrive. I highly doubt any of us sit by our mailbox waiting for the mailman to arrive, or leave mail unopened as reminders that we have to deal with it later. Sure, some of us open mail and dedicate time to dealing with it later but it’s a visual item. Unlike email, it isn’t as easy to bury.

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    Rather than discuss ways to get through your email or how to categorize it either through filters or some other strategy, I’m going to offer 3 email responses that will annihilate your email and get your mind out of your inbox and back onto what matters — and allow you to avoid email bankruptcy. Each response is appropriate for certain circumstances — of which there are really only three:

    1. Timely follow-up correspondence is needed.
    2. No follow-up needed.
    3. No need for it at all.

    Feel free to use these email responses so that you can push through your inbox and get on with what you need to focus on — just make sure you replace the generic text with what you need to address, as well as the appropriate salutations and signature. Save these either as a text file, as a TextExpander snippet or in Gmail as a “canned response” — or whatever works best for your setup.

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    Follow-up Email Needed

    Thank you for your email. I’m glad you reached out to contact me regarding INSERT SUBJECT HERE.

    That said, while I’m interested in what you’ve offered, my time is at a premium these days. I’ll give the matter further thought and will get back to you within the next “X” business days. If you require an answer sooner than that, simply respond to this email and give me a timetable so I can see if I can make something happen on my end.

    Again, thanks for your email and I look forward to hearing back from you shortly.

    Follow-up Email Not Needed

    Thanks for your email regarding INSERT SUBJECT HERE. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to give me a heads up on this.

    Unfortunately, it’s not something that I’m willing to take on at this time as I have other matters that require my attention.

    Again, thank you for reaching out to me and good luck with INSERT SUBJECT HERE.

    No Need to Respond

    Delete it. Now.

    (And yes, deleting an email is a response. Either to you or to the sender, depending on the subject matter.)

    Let the Ruthlessness Begin

    There’s no sense in using your email inbox as a place to manage your tasks, projects and communication. Just like you don’t leave mail piling up in your mailbox, you shouldn’t leave email piling up in your inbox. It’s impractical on so many levels, primarily to your productivity. Email responses should be dealt with in a thoughtful and efficient manner — not swept under the rug. The best way to break the habit of email hoarding is by being ruthless with your inbox.

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    Start using these responses today and you’ll find that your time in your email inbox will be lessened and your time delivering actionable results on what you really need to do will be enhanced. You’ll escape the rapture of the inbox and reap the rewards of conquering it.

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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