The colleague who cried “URGENT”

Five Steps To Breaking The "URGENT" Email Cycle

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It’s noon on a Tuesday and you hear your email chime go off. It’s your worst nightmare. An email from you know who with a subject line stating “URGENT”.

Being the professional that you are, you are not oblivious to truly urgent situations. You know all about real fires that need to be put out pronto. A predicament that could have serious consequences if not remedied immediately.

This is not one of those situations.

How do you know? This is an almost daily “URGENT” email from your colleague. You often wonder if any of their emails are not marked “URGENT”. Your day is lost chasing your tail on a matter that is not really as pressing as stated and could have been dealt with earlier with more proactive planning on the part of your colleague.

Perhaps you are not the recipient of this vicious emailing pattern. Maybe you are the perpetrator. 

Do you send too many “URGENT” emails?

It’s okay to say yes. This is a place of love and support. There is a program that can help you. There is no judgement, simply a wiliness to help you rid yourself of this dirty habit.

I took an informal poll on this very subject with some of my corporate friends. They wish to remain anonymous but it is important to understand how your actions impact your reputation and personal brand in the workplace, as well as the undue stress you may be causing others.

“I avoid partnering with him/her at all costs”

“Their poor planning impacts my day and makes me feel like the work that I am doing (that was interrupted) does not matter”

“Word spreads and no one wants to collaborate with them. It is unnecessarily stressful”

We are here to support change through a five step “URGENT” email rehabilitation program.

1) Admit to yourself that you have a problem- Self-awareness is one of the most important qualities a person can have. In my experience as a Human Resources professional for over seventeen years, this very quality is what separates high potential leaders from those who fail to progress.

We all have things to work on. Those who can admit their areas of development and invest time and energy in bridging gaps, are those who can progress with greater ease. They are willing partners in their own growth and betterment.

2) Acknowledge to others that you have done this and are aware of it now- Now it is time to invite your URGENT email target out for a coffee and explain that you have reflected upon your own workstyle and are guilty of abusing the word urgent to get attention for matters that are important to you.

3) Apologize- During that coffee, apologize. No buts. Just sorry and ask for a fresh start.

4) Plan better– Since we are being honest, you know that some of those “URGENT” emails are a result of poor planning on your part. Learn to anticipate needs. Give your colleagues a heads up that you may need some reporting later in the week.

Manage expectations of those who may be pushing their “URGENT” needs down on you. Explain the toll it takes on the team prompting undue stress and time required to compile their ask. Assess the criticality of the need through an open discussion with the requesting party. Attempt to stop the “URGENT” email madness.

5) Get the attention you need the right way- Consider subject lines like “Would help me out a great deal if you could”, “Ready to be my hero?” “Swapping your fave coffee for your help?”. Don’t fall into the trap of creating urgency to compete for attention. Build relationships on respect. This means respecting the time of your colleagues and crying “URGENT” only when there truly is a wolf in sight.

Be proud of yourself, you self-aware recovering “URGENT” email abuser. You are a new and improved colleague and business partner. Those around you will take note and appreciate your desire for improved collaboration.

Got to run…some annoying person just sent me an “URGENT” email.

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