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Make That High Priority... And Pronto!

When my students do their final presentations, I'm always introduced to some funny and fascinating YouTube videos I would have never found on my own.  This one came from a group doing a presentation on how miscommunication leads to office politics situations.

We could probably solve the "high priority" email crisis by doing a "reply all" to the sender with this video attached.  They might get the point.  After all, if a flood of high priority emails is annoying, imagine how much more annoying this video would seem to them?  (And, as a fun irony, send it out as low priority.)

When should an email be marked high priority?  Here are my criteria:

  1. Is the sender's career, life, or livelihood in mortal danger?  If you can answer yes to any of those three, you MIGHT have a case.  For example, if the company will go bankrupt if the message isn't sent, I can see a high priority marking.
  2. Do you need to CC a "cast of thousands"?  I've found very few broadcast messages that are truly high priority.  Other channels might be more appropriate.
  3. Is the email requesting a specific action to be taken?  If it is only informational, can the priority truly be that high?
  4. Is the message extremely time sensitive?  In this case, wouldn't a phone call work better?  You can still send the email, but does it need to be marked as high priority if it's just a back-up plan?

What are your criteria for marking emails as high priority?  How do you handle those who abuse this email function?


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Breanne Potter

This is beautiful!!!! I'll be adding this video to my blog post on email etiquette later this link and provide a shout out to your site. Great find!!!!

Timothy Johnson

Thanks, Breanne. It was a great video to drive home an overlooked point.

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