Thank God for technology which helps you to track your emails. At least you have some means of knowing whether your mail reached the person or not. I am not a mass mailer or a spammer but using the “read receipt” function lets me know if the majority of people are reading my mails or not.

You also come to know whether your mails are deleted without being read. If they are deleted due to a passage of time, it means one thing. I have seen a mail about a program I had in January 2008 being deleted in April 2008. That’s fine. The reader feels the event has gone by and hence the mail need not be read.

If your mail is deleted without being read shortly on arrival, it means something else. I have seen a mail delivered at 9.25 a.m. being deleted unread at 9.30 a.m. the same day! I observed that a middle level manager in a particular organisation invariably deleted my mails without reading them. I had met the person a few times when I had done some work for them.

Some time later, I heard that an old friend had joined that organisation at a very senior level. Thanks to his recommendation, I was asked to make a presentation to their management team on how we had supported other organisations on issues that they faced. After an engaging discussion, I happened to meet the manager who I spoke of earlier- the deleting mails guy. He was gushing with enthusiasm and said many nice things about my presentation and the points I had raised.

I told him that much of what I had said was actually in the mails sent from time to time. The problem was that they were being deleted without being read. He told me he was swamped with many mails which is understandable. Deleting them without reading them is not understandable. You cannot refuse to take phone calls because some of the phone calls may be unimportant. Likewise you cannot refuse to see mails – some of them might really be important.

Delete mails by all means. I do so on an on-going basis myself but please delete them only after you have read and digested them. By deleting them unread, you do not know what you may have missed. Besides, on a softer note: you are conveying a message which most people won’t take to kindly, aren’t you?

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This is the 136 th of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success