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10 Email Habits That Make Others Hate You

10 Email Habits That Make Others Hate You

There’s a big difference between a well-written email and one that gets an immediate delete. Emails are the electronic equivalent of letters and that’s essential to remember as you sit down to write. If you’re looking to write emails that get attention and responses, stay clear of these 10 email habits that make others hate you.

Sending Emails With No Point.

Don’t just send an email because you can. Send emails only if there is a purpose behind it — you have key information to share, an update or are responding to someone else’s request. If you continually send emails without a point, people will stop reading them. Remember to be respectful of the reader’s time.

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Writing an Email in One Paragraph.

If it’s a very short email, then this is OK to do, but if you are writing a lengthy email with more than one point, then include multiple paragraphs. Emails need  to be composed like business letters and have clear introductions, middles and conclusions. Writing an email in just one paragraph makes it hard on your reader and doesn’t provide any visual breaks.

Failing to Respond to Emails That Require Replies.

Nothing is more annoying than asking someone a question and never receiving a response. The person clearly wants to know something and by not responding, you are creating confusion and stress, which no one wants or needs. If someone asks you a question and seeks a response via email, please respond. It just takes a minute or two to answer and everyone is happier in the end. If you’re having trouble getting your inbox under control, check out these clever tips.

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Not Matching Your Email Content With the Subject Line.

This shows poor writing and organization skills. Let’s say your email subject line says “Project Update,” but then the email’s content doesn’t include anything about that topic, leaving the receiver confused and irritated. If you’re unsure what your subject line should be, wait until you are done writing the rest of the email so you’ll get a better idea of what to write in the subject line.

Leaving the Subject Line Blank.

This annoyance is very close to the previous one. By not providing a subject line, the reader has no idea why you’re emailing and in today’s time-strapped workplace, you’re just going to induce a groan and possibly have your email deleted as they might suspect your email to be spam.

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Marking an Email “Urgent” When it’s Not.

Please only red flag an email if it’s truly urgent. Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? That’s what happens when you continually send emails marked “urgent” that’s really not. Receivers will stop taking you seriously if you continue to write ‘non-urgent emails titled ‘urgent.’

Sending Error-Filled Messages.

Sending an email without running spell check or reading over what you wrote before hitting send is a big mistake. Your emails say a lot about you — if you send emails filled with misspellings, incomplete sentences or bad grammar, you are telling the reader that you don’t care or worse yet, that you’re ignorant.

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WRITING IN ALL CAPS.

Avoid this at all costs; using all capital letters sends the message to your reader that you’re angry or screaming at them.

Using Texting Lingo.

Emails are not texts so skip the LOLs, BTWs, and other lingo you use in your text messages. Please remember, emails are in the same communication category as a business letter and childish abbreviations aren’t necessary.

Hitting “Reply All” When it’s Not Needed.

This email habit will not only get people to despise you, it can also get you in a lot of trouble. First, avoid hitting “reply all” if you are only responding to one person, since the unwanted messages clog up readers’ in-boxes and no one likes that. Secondly, by hitting “reply all” when you really should only be responding to one person can get you into trouble if you’re ripping on one of the other people in the email chain. Check out these tips to learn more about who to include and who to leave out in an email chain.

Avoid these habits and you’ll make sure people won’t groan when they see your name in the “From” field when checking their emails.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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