Email comic: urgent in subject line? Let's not

Using urgent in subject line? Let’s not, ok? As some of you may know, I’m a big fan of Dilbert (some other webcomics too, but that’s for later). Dilbert’s office environment is full of situations that make communicating difficult, to say the least. In this email comic we see the boss using urgent in subject line of an email to Dilbert. Guess how Dilbert handles it?
The use of urgent in subject line will work against you, as you can see. Email is not the communications channel to use when you have something that is urgent. Walk by somebody or pick up the phone. The advantage of email is that it is patient: it will sit there until it’s handled.
Just using urgent in subject line doesn’t mean the receiver will treat it as urgent: on the contrary, it will look disrespectful to the receiver.
Remember: actual urgency would mean getting something done asap. For you as the ‘sender’ of the message it would mean communicating it as fast as possible to the receiver. Give that person a call, walk by their office or such. It will work better, faster and save email from being abused as an urgency channel.
Also, never put those ! high priority marks on emails. They make you look blunt and as if you’re still living in 1987 when that might still have had a positive effect.


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