SELAH – Before you SEND

By Jerry Randecker & Chris Sitter (Published April 2012 in CED Magazine)

Many of us started our careers long before AOL ever began passing out those CD’s in the mid to late 90’s with an offer to give us all a free month of internet access, and the opportunity to have our very own e-mail address! Seems like a hundred years ago, doesn’t it?

Today, with so many e-mails from suppliers, customers and co-workers demanding our attention – it’s really tempting to just finish the thing and push SEND!   But sometimes getting it over, and firing off that electronic communication in haste can come back to bite us.  Misunderstandings can occur from our business associates. Our customers and clients could perceive (probably unmerited) a lack of professionalism in the way we manufacture our goods or deliver our services, and our message can be far less effective than if we took just a little extra time to give that electronic letter a good “once-over” before pulling the trigger.

There’s a 3,000 year old word that’s good to remember, when we’re tempted to prematurely push SEND. The word is SELAH.  It is frequently translated from ancient Hebrew to mean: “stop and listen”, or “pause and think about it”.  In many cases, taking a “Selah moment” BEFORE we push SEND, can save a whole lot of clean-up efforts later on.  During your Selah moment, read your email through again, and ask yourself a few key questions:

1)    Did I start this e-mail out with the proper tone?

2)    Did I spell the person or person’s name/s correctly, and am I sure I got their title/s correct? People really do care if you spell their name wrong, even if they don’t say anything about it later, so if you’re not sure, call the company, confirm it on the Internet, or find their business card.

3)    Did I copy and/or blind copy everyone I should have?

4)    Were there some people I was about to copy that really don’t need to see this communication?  Or, did Outlook automatically fill in someone else with a similar e-mail address who isn’t supposed to get this communication at all?

5)    Did I leave some portions of a back and forth e-mail trail in this communication that would be better left off?

6)    Did I set the right tone, throughout the document?  Was I positive enough when trying to encourage someone, and firm enough to deliver that tough message I was trying to send?

What about my spelling and grammar?  One European author addressed that subject with an article titled: “How Poor Spelling & Grammar Can Seriously Affect Sales”.  In it, the author quotes a 2005 study conducted in the UK that revealed tens of billions in lost sales due to poor spelling, punctuation and grammar. That same study showed 30% of those polled said they wouldn’t buy any product or service from businesses that used poor spelling or grammar. Ouch.  Customers can too easily make the assumption that a company with sloppy spelling and grammar has a similar lack of attention to excellence and detail in the rest of the way they do business.

Ask yourself: Can it stand alone?  Remember, e-mail communications must be able to stand alone.  They are not like phone communications, where you can adjust your message mid-stream due to verbal feedback like a moment of silence on the other end of the phone, or laughter or anger…emotions you hear coming through your receiver.  Once you push SEND, that e-mail is completely on its own.  It must say your whole message all by itself (with zero additional input from you) to everyone you are copying… from the greeting – all the way to your signature.  Scares me just thinking about it!  In fact, because of this, for really touchy communications, sometimes you’re better just picking up the phone.

At JSA, we communicate electronically with candidates and hiring authorities from equipment dealers and manufacturers across North America all day long. Our Team, like the business men and women we serve, also feels the pressure to “get the job done”. But in the midst of our striving to get that next important electronic communication “out the door”, we try to remember to pause for a moment, before releasing each message to the inboxes of our clients and candidates.

I would venture to guess that most of those reading this article (like myself) have spent at least a few hours in their career doing alphabetical filing.  That experience alone should help us see clearly…that “SELAH” should come before “SEND”!