FYI – Your Action is Required

Everyone knows FYI — short for “For Your Information.”  People have a habit of sending emails with FYI as the subject, or forwarding emails with FYI as the only thing they contribute.

I dislike FYI — and try to avoid using it myself — because it is ambiguous.  This blogger really hates it.  Most of the time people use it, they actually want you to do something or take some action – they don’t just want you to have the information.  Maybe they want to speak with you about the content of the email.  Maybe it’s information about an upcoming meeting — a time change, perhaps — that you need to know to alter your behavior.

Another problem with FYI is that it implies low priority, or unimportance.  If I have 30 new email messages in my inbox, and one simply has FYI as the subject line, you can be sure I’m reading it last.

As much as I dislike it, I know that it’s here to stay.  So, as they say, “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em.”  I’m not sure that I’ll completely adopt the FYI practice, but I’ll join in the concept by proposing a counter acronym: YAR.

YAR is short for “your action required.”  Unlike FYI, the meaning is clear.  And unlike FYI, it’s not to be used as the only thing in an email subject line or the only thing that you contribute to an email forward.

YAR is an indicator.  It’s like the “urgent” flag that you can add to emails in Microsoft Outlook.  But it’s right there in the email itself.  If you see YAR in an email, you should read it first, because you have something to do.

How do you get people to respond to your emails?

Have any other tips to help promote clear communication?  Please share.

Knowledge Management, Technology & Social Media for Lawyers and Law Firms

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3 thoughts on “FYI – Your Action is Required

  • August 10, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I use “FYI's” and the like sparingly. In fact, “FYI” I use almost never. I do insert action requests into the subject lines of e-mails when I really need a response. Most often, I enter the Subject line, followed by an indicator of what I need: “Destruction of closed files – response requested.” I almost never receive indicators like this, so I'm thinking it's so unusual people pay attention. “Response requested” seems to work really well. I wonder if this works better than “action required”, which sounds like the recipient has to actually get up and physically do something. I also use the Outlook flags to indicate low or high priority.

    I also give recipients a date by which to respond, and a polite warning that if they do not respond, I'll be proceeding in a certain way.

  • May 21, 2012 at 11:56 am

    How about the ever popular “ASAP” which really has no meaning – “as soon as possible” – it might not be possible until next week or next month so ASAP really doesn’t have any urgency about it. Instead, how about QLB (Quick Like Bunny) – now that’s pretty fast. Not that it’ll catch on, but I’m just saying…

  • July 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    You know if your using microsoft outlook, like most companies do, you can always mark the e-mail with high importance and followup required. 

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