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Say something of substance with your subject. (Perhaps with poetry.) The first line of defense against the absurd number of unread messages is the subject line. For a new topic, my expectation is that the subject line gives me an inkling of what I’m about to read. “Question” is not a subject. “Question regarding the impending disaster in engineering” is a better subject. The best, “Calamity is a man’s true touchstone.”
As I’m considering a subject line, I work under the erroneous, paranoid assumption that the someone I’m sending an email to is not going to read it. Chances are that they will, but when I fret about them not reading the mail, I get amazingly creative about making the subject line descriptive, relevant, and poetic.
The amount of editing time doubles for each paragraph. Your instinct is to hit “Send”. It’s so satisfying to get to the end of your thought and just fire it off into the ether, but my request is that you reread it. I am particularly bad at this.
I look at every signature in every single email and I assign a humanity value to it. Sincerely? Cordially? Best? Thoughts? No signature at all? You’ve taken the time to write these paragraphs, to transcribe your thoughts, and you’ve left me hanging?