Top 10 Communication Tips 2011 – #3

This is the third entry in our “Top 10″ list for you to consider when communicating with our office and applying.

Number 3 – Avoid copying several parties on the same email and avoid long emails.

Some tips in our list are straightforward but this one is a bit more ambiguous.   Encouraging applicants to use one email address (Tip #1) is straightforward.  When advising to avoid copying several parties on the same email and avoiding long emails, things are a bit less defined.  First the topic of copying several parties on the same email.

I understand the temptation to copy four or five different parties on the same email, but most often this only leads to delays in getting a response. I know my inclination when I see four or five people copied on an email sent to me is that I am going to let someone else answer the email.  The problem?  Everyone else may think the same thing and you do not get a response.

Or, I may want to check with others before sending my response and the result of one email is four or five more emails just to find out who is going to answer.  Therefore, I highly recommend sending your email to one recipient address.  If the person at the address is unable to assist you, rest assured it will be passed on to someone who can assist you.  When in doubt send one email to sipa_admission@columbia.edu.

The second piece of advice, avoiding long emails, is a tough one to explain because I know “long” is relative.  I guess the best way I can put it is that some tasks are better done in pieces or in chunks.  Sometimes we get emails that are extremely long and detailed and it takes a lot of time to dig through them.  If you have multiple questions, it might not be a bad idea to try to break them up into separate emails over a short time period.  This will allow us to respond in a more efficient manner.

This series of “top 10 tips” is an example of what I am talking about.  At first I was going to post a single entry with all 10 tips in it.  Then I thought about my own behavior – I tend to only glance at really long emails in my personal Gmail account.

If I would have put all 10 tips in one entry it probably would have taken you 15-20 minutes to read it and visit any associated links.  I came to the conclusion that it would be more effective and easier to digest if it was broken into 2-3 minute chunks.

This is probably the most ambiguous tip so use you own judgment.  I will say that sometimes people will apologize when they send more than email.  No apology necessary!  This approach might just be more effective.  On the other hand, a separate email for each and every question might be overkill.  Again, use your best judgment.