9 Email Tips That Will Save Your Career
Before you hit send on that scorching critique of your colleague’s fridge maintenance habits, or that hilarious chain letter you found, or that glib response to a less informed contemporary’s question - be sure to read these 9-email tips, which will certainly save your career.
1. Use your words, pick up the phone.
It might be a novel idea for some, but a conversation on the phone can sometimes more effectively deliver the appropriate tone needed to discuss an important point. A hastily written email can miss some of the nuance that makes a quick chat so effective. If you have already sent an email and someone is responding with a level of confusion, diffuse it by giving them a call promptly.
2. Emails shouldn’t be a stream of your consciousness.
If you’re trying to open a discussion on a new topic, unless you specifically outline that you’re shooting ideas around in your message, readers may take what you’ve written in an email as your final thought on a subject. If there is very little frame of reference around what you’re writing, consider calling a meeting, or using a digital meeting format to bring ideas to a group or individual collectively.
3. Write meaningful subject lines.
Your recipient should be able to understand what your email is about by reading the subject line. For example, “Annual Report Draft - 146 – For Approval”. If action is required, indicate so in the subject line. Never leave the subject line blank, try not to use IMPORTANT, or HELP ME! All caps is a non-starter.
4. Keep to one subject per email.
By sending business email you are creating a record of correspondence that has some value to the business. That record is difficult to manage when it has more than one subject. It may seem strange, but send two emails in sequence rather than one. To that end, don’t start a new subject by replying to an old email, that can be annoying and can lead to information loss.
5. Ask, “Does this person really need to be copied?”.
If you remember Carbon Copies, then you’ll remember how fun they were to use. Think of the CC button in an email in a similar way. Only CC someone when you know if they aren’t informed of something they’d be upset. When you CC someone, you aren’t asking them to reply, you are providing them information they need.
6. Be concise. Start with your point or request
Start your email by stating the facts you need to outline, provide a brief frame of reference for your query or request and end with a call to action.
Example - Do this!
Subject: New Letterhead Required – Please Order
I found the four boxes of misspelled letter head in the office’s foyer.
We still need suitable materials for a new set of contracts that need to be printed, could you please make the attached corrections to the design file and resend the order to our supplier.
Also, if you could please remove the as-mentioned boxes from the hallway and bring them to the recycler that would be outstanding.
7. Pause. Pause again. Send. Never email when you are upset or angry.
If it is appropriate to respond in writing at all, wait until you have calmed down. Remember that your response will be permanently recorded. Even in less intense circumstances, you’ll benefit by reflecting on your emails rather than responding immediately. Mistakes happen, try to be understanding when they do. What you write can haunt you for a very long time.
Example Don’t do this:
HOW DID YOU SPELL THE COMPANY’S NAME WRONG!
WHO TAUGHT U 2 REED?
8. Don’t forward an email that will provoke a harmful response.
If you receive an email that is alarming or obnoxious, resist the urge to forward it to your colleagues. Yes, you’ll need to talk it through, but if you forward the provocative email to four others, you’ll cause at least one to react without thought, in writing.
9. Check your spelling and grammar.
It may seem unimportant, but if the substance of your email is later scrutinized, poor spelling and grammar might cause people to perceive you or your work as sloppy.
What are some of your tips for writing strong email communications? Share them with us on Twitter @RandstadCanada.