It is not uncommon to have major mishaps and misunderstandings based on poorly thought-out emails. Email is the workhorse of most company communication and, despite the volume of emails you send and receive on a daily basis, you should never lose respect for the power of that communication platform.
An email is composed of the written word. Experts suggest that up to 85% of our perception of communication is through non-verbal cues. These cues are absent in email communication.
While it is not practical to take an excessive amount of time to compose each and every email you send, the following are guidelines that will assist in sending cogent and coherent messages; saving your company time and increasing communication efficiency.
* Compose a pertinent, brief subject that conveys the content of your message
* Use *confidential or [Action Required], as necessary. This allows the recipient to determine more about the contents of your message without having to read the body text.
* Keep ‘To’ recipients to a small number and only those that need to take action on the subject
* Keep ‘Cc’ recipients to only those that really need to be informed. Don’t copy upper management if they have no action to take or don’t need the update.
* If the subject is controversial, contains bad news or is addressing a performance issue, don’t send it. This is better addressed in a conversation so that complete and meaningful communication can take place. Face to face conversations about sensitive topics minimize misunderstandings, misdirected information, and opportunities to mistakenly include uninvolved parties.
* If responding to an inflammatory email, type your response and read it multiple times, go to bed and read it again in the morning and then send. Perhaps it doesn’t merit a response or the response would be better addressed in-person.
* Use appropriate salutations to set the tone. First names are common, but when addressing C-Suite-level individuals, it is not typically advisable.
* Keep emails short and to the point (Brevity breeds clarity) I prefer to use bullets when listing events, actions, and key points.
* If you expect a response, let the reader know that. Also include information regarding deadlines.
* Proofread! Reread the email at least once to make sure all spelling and grammatical elements are correct.
* Do not Assume Privacy. Ever. Email can be forwarded and reread by others. Do not write in an email what you don’t want your mother or your CEO to see.
* Always respond promptly. Nothing is more annoying than someone who takes a week to get back to you. Even if you cannot respond fully right away, let the sender know that.
* Email signatures should be standard in the company. You will typically want to see the name, title, location, and basic contact information included in a professional signature block. Avoid cute sayings, links to surveys, and flowery pictures.