Join my Slack? Uhm Nah.

Just heard a story from a friend where they got a message over LinkedIn via their internal messaging system that they actually felt compelled to respond to (I know). My friend didn’t want to actually talk over LinkedIn messages, so she said “how about we move this to email?”.

I’ve done this a handful of times myself, literally with LinkedIn. Chances are what comes in over LinkedIn is pure garbage.

100% of this is garbage

But in the rare case you get an interesting message, moving it to email immediately is a fair move.

But instead of the person my friend was talking to saying “sure, that sounds good, I’ll email you.” they said “here’s an invitation to our Slack workplace.” Oh, sure, of course, would you like to crawl inside my shirt with me too? lolz.

I’m sure some people are all loosey goosey with their Slacks, but not most of us. Slack is sacred ground. Slack is almost more personal than giving out our phone number.

The worst thing though is that they ignored her ask. That’s like ok bye bye territory for me.

What it reminded me of though is grocery stores.

I don’t know how popular this still is, but at one point in my life, every grocery story I ever went to wanted to make sure I had a little keychain plastic dongle thingy.

A “discount card” the one above is called. I’m not convinced they actually did anything useful for me. It felt more like a system for tracking shoppers to gain data about buying patterns. But it had another benefit to the store. If I actually put this thing on my keys, that means that, even inadvertently, I’m looking at their logo probably dozens of times a day. The branding is burning into my mind. What store am I going to go to? Some random one or the one that is burned into my mind?

That’s what the “join my Slack” thing feels like. Sure, I could send you an email, but even better, let me put my logo into the ever-present sidebar of an app you use all day long.

"Hey Sarah,"

If I really want to deal with an email (that I’ve already mentally accepted) but I haven’t quite digested it all yet and I’m not sure what I want to say, I’ll open it up and just type out with my fingers the salutation.

Hey Deja,

Sometimes that’s enough to get me focused and thinking about what to say. A little icebreaker for the fingers.

And sometimes I give up, but hey next time I attempt it at least the salutation is done.

"Mentally Declined"

There is a delta between your brain deciding about something in an email, and you actually dealing with that email. Shortening that gap is a good idea.

I imagine DHH is talking about email because Basecamp announced they are getting into the email app game with HEY.

Anna Belle's Skillful Email

Anna Belle:

I began using email in the early days — around 1989.  It was fun, a bit like secret notes passed under a teacher’s nose. But then in 1992, I met its dark side.  First came listserv flame wars, then conversations that in hindsight were clearly too personal, next time-consuming avalanches in my inbox (over 100 per day at one point), and, ultimately, receiving hateful emails aimed directly at me.

While I’ve never sent any hateful emails, I’m embarrassed to say that early on I sent some that may well have hurt the recipients.  Certainly I was unskillful.

The net result was for 25 years I was afraid, at points even terrified, of opening email each day.

25 years! Terrified of email! I’m so glad Anna is confronting this fear and funneling it into self betterment by way of a guide. Feels like PTSD in a way, like a soldier in a war coming to terms with the fact that they harmed people, or may have, although I can’t imagine someone this positively self-reflective ever doing anything that bad.

Some tidbits from the guide:

As I open my email client, I use the few seconds it takes to collect myself and recall the humanity that lurks behind this impersonal facade.

Because most people are busy, I am as brief as possible (without sacrificing connection and helpfulness).

Once a day, go through “Top Priority”; respond in a timely fashion.

Let it speak for itself.

I think it’s a bit awkward for a cold-call email to open with telling me how awesome you are.

You probably are. You’re probably more successful than me. You’re probably smarter and richer and more innovative. But telling me that puts me on guard. Now I’m all like ok whatever good for you.

This particular email went on to tell me about an article one of their employees wrote that they think is good and wanted to share. I can’t go into it fresh anymore. I read the article, but it was tainted by me thinking about how awesome they think they are and all my mind could do was be critical about it. My bet is that if I went into it without all the pomp, I would have been way more open to the concepts in it.

Bullet Points (For the love of god)

I’ve been doing a lot of emailing back and forth with a financial guy doing some loan reshuffling stuff for us. Email is perfect for this because the process involves a lot of digging up documents and talking with other people before a proper response can be made. Async stuff – a massive strength of email.

One problem is that randomly these emails seem to turn into calls. For no particular rhyme or reason, I’ll just get called about one of them, and the phone call helps nothing at all, it’s just a time-wasting re-hash of what is in the email. I get why bosses and salespeople do that, because they are trying to push their thing on top of your mindstack and they know that being rude to you is a small price to pay when it works.

Another problem is the style of email. These emails I get are almost like stream-of-consciousness strings of text. Usually the information I need is buried in there, but I have to dig it out. For example, what is really needed as a next step is two particular documents, but they aren’t called out specially, I just need to read the long paragraphs to find the asks.

What occurred to me about is that a combination of behaviors is what made it so hard for me. I sometimes don’t deal with emails the second I get them. I might come back to an email 10 times before I deal with it. Like my brain needs to see it again and digest it a little more before I have the right plan built up to deal with it. Maybe I’m unusual in that respect (I really need to interview some folks about stuff like this). So when I have a hard-to-parse email, it grates on me. I can’t revisit the email and understand the needs quickly, I have to take an extra-long pause on it while it goes through my brain’s rendering engine to get the important bits out.

The solution, and I don’t think it just benefits me, is to make extraordinarily clear in an email what the requests or next steps are. Bullet points go a long way here. Even if they are in addition to what has already been written, they still help.

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah .

I need:

• A P&L and Balance Sheet from 10/1/2019 to 12/31/2019
• An account statement for January

Now my brain parser can jump down to that last bit when I revisit the email and be reminded exactly what needs to get done.