A Welcome Delay

Always delay before you send an email, especially a strongly worded one.

This editorial was originally released on Nov 30, 2007. It is being republished as Steve is traveling to the PASS Summit.

Microsoft got in on a deal to Nigeria that Mandriva Linux negotiated with the government there. The story almost sounds like a bad email: the provider of a “free” product complaining that another company gave their product away for free? So does that mean that in a free market where the cost is the same ($0), that Windows is superior?

There’s some other editorial on that topic, but in this case, what was interesting is that the CEO of Mandriva fired off an open letter to Microsoft, which you can read here. The tone of the letter was a little whiny, and it didn’t seem as though Mr. Bancilhon really thought through what he was writing.

It’s Friday, and with the holidays approaching, I thought this would make a good poll.

Do you pause before sending emails?

In the old days, back when I was younger, if you wanted to fire off a letter, you had to write it and then mail it, usually ensuring some type of delay. Often you had at least one night to think about what you’d written before you dropped it in a mailbox.

There are plenty of people that still recommend that you delay sending an emotional email for at least a day. I know quite a few people that rethink their position before sending, often saving the email to a drafts folder for ten minutes, an hour, some delay to give themselves a break between writing and proofing.

I’m actually pretty bad. As I’m sure many of you have noticed, typos slip through the editorials from time to time, often because I’m in a rush. My self-proofing skills aren’t the greatest, and I tend to make mistakes more often than I’d like.

However I’ve also learned that delays can be good things. I’ve often incorporated a delay in restoring a secondary log-shipped database to give me the chance to recover from an accidental deletion of data. Delaying the send of a potentially inflammatory email allows me the time to cool down and can prevent me from making a big mistake.

Email is quick and a great tool, but it shouldn’t be abused. Take the time to be sure that the message you’re sending is the one that you want received.

Steve Jones

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About way0utwest

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