Section 7.5

Managing Email Dialogues

In most cases, it is helpful to set your email software preferences so that your email responses automatically include the message to which you are replying. Many people in a business environment receive scores of email messages each day, and it can be difficult to keep track of ongoing dialogues with numerous people. By including previous messages in your reply, you remind recipients of the context and allow them to refer back easily to previous correspondence. Otherwise you may send them searching for earlier messages, or you may find that you waste valuable time in follow-up communications to clarify your point.

In managing an ongoing dialogue, it can sometimes be helpful to change subject lines periodically to reflect evolving subject matter. That may make it easier to find relevant email messages later.

If the dialogue grows very long, you might consider deleting some messages from the bottom of the ongoing exchange — as long as you feel confident that the omission won’t cause problems later if you need to look at the history of the discussion. In addition, you might want to leave out salutations and signature files after the dialogue is established, though in writing to clients or managers, you should probably follow their lead before dispensing with these elements.