Nora Ephron on email: Takeaways for Professionals

In her final book,”I Remember Nothing,” Nora Eprhon, who seeemed to know she was writing her final farewell to her readers, devoted not one, but two of the essays to the increasingly toxic nature of email.

She describes email like a parasite sucking the joy out of our work lives.

I highly recommend her book–it’s a fun read, full of laughs, and exceedingly poignant given her recent passing and the timing of her last book.

Here are a few practical takeaways from her essays about email (something which she assures us she will not miss in the afterlife):

There isn’t a lot of standard etiquette about email.

But we need to use an environmental approach: reduce-reuse-recycle.

Think of email less as this infinitely available resource and more as something to be used wisely; something that’s used only when truly necessary. And like environmentalism, it depends on all of us doing our little part.

It is too easy for us to dash off an email and the ease with which we can do that increases the likelihood that we will:

  • offend someone
  • ruin a relationship
  • fail to proofread our own work
  • fail to seek out information on our own

So it’s not just about an external environment–it’s also about protecting our own image, valuing our own professionalism, and consistently making a good impression on those with whom we interact.

With this post, I am kicking off a series on email etiquette for the workplace. It is my goal to follow my own prescriptions for using email for good, not for evil!

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