The WAIT Technique for Emails

Should you really reply to all?

Summary
Transcript

Juliet Funt, CEO of WhiteSpace at Work, explains one simple technique leaders can use to implement better email practices. 

“One of the funny things about workplace culture that I honestly do not understand is how many times you can give people an email etiquette course, an email etiquette book, email etiquette training, and they will still add every single human being onto every CC and reply to all,” says Juliet. “It's just a very pernicious habit that's really hard to break.”

She describes a technique employees should use when crafting emails: The WAIT Technique, which stands for, “Whose Action Is This?” Watch the video to learn more.

The WAIT Technique addresses CCs and FYIs. One of the funny things about workplace culture that I honestly do not understand is how many times you can give people an email etiquette course, an email etiquette book, email etiquette training, and they will still add every single human being onto every CC and reply to all. It's just a very pernicious habit that's really hard to break.

When we're teaching at organizations, we teach a technique called WAIT. W-A-I-T, stands for Whose Action Is This?

This is based on the idea that a proper email should actually be a request for action, not a request for observation. It shouldn't be that two surgeons are on the surgical floor and there's 14 people that are up in the theater watching. There's no reason, most of the time, for an observer. But we add a lot of people because we're showing off to our boss, or we're doing a little CYA, or we're just reflexively doing that terrible thing where we're used to adding everybody for really no clear reason at all.

So if you run it through the filter of W-A-I-T, Whose Action Is This?, you realize that a lot of the people that you previously would have considered including do not have an action. Sometimes there's a reason for someone to sit in, but it's a far, far minority compared to who we'd really like to see on a lot of email threads.
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Juliet Funt

WhiteSpace at Work is a training and consulting firm that helps organizations, their leaders and their employees flip the norms of business in order to reclaim their creativity, productivity and engagement. As CEO, Juliet helps profes...

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