Payal realized it after about the sixth time her boss commented on an email she sent her. “That’s a really good email!” Payal did not think it was anything special, until she started paying closer attention to the emails she was receiving. There were horrible grammar errors, embarrassing spelling mistakes, All-Caps scream, incorrect names, emoticons, lack of proper greetings or pleasantries, a sea of text that does not make the point until the second last paragraph, some email attachments that come without a body text….. Emails might have taken the backseat when it comes to online communication and has been relegated to mostly just professional use. The art of writing a proper email has been somewhat muddled and eroded over the years through excessive exposure of other messaging channels like Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, LINE, WeChat, the now ancient SMS, etc. Minor irritants like coma splices can be tolerated but if the purpose of communication is to exchange information in an efficient manner, then here are a few things to watch out for:
The subject line is like a preamble to your email. Use a concise and specific subject line. A good and short subject line (five to six words) helps readers prioritize messages and find them later. If your message is especially important, consider putting “important” or “response needed” in the subject line.
Keep your mail short and simple: Brevity is the soul of wit. So, it should come as no surprise that it is the soul of effective emails, too. Shorter emails result in quicker response time, leading to higher overall productivity.
Better not be hasty: Avoid sending mails without reading after composing them. Step back and evaluate your thoughts, structuring it in a way that is simple and easy to follow. Getting personal, making generalizations, hurling insults or accusations is never a good etiquette.
Usage of ‘Cool’ Text Language: Short messaging has ruined our ability to write full sentences.-‘Typing lyke dis iz no gud.’ Text language shortened or purposely misspelt can be the ‘in thing’ or cool; but it is not ‘cool’ when nobody understands your email.
Be polite and do not jump the gun: Proper salutations and sign-offs can win over the toughest people. Greeting the receiver with a simple hello and their name; ending with a ‘thank-you, ‘warm regards’ or a variant are subtle ways of showing respect.
Spelling and Grammatical Errors: Do not forget to proofread. Of course, all of us are in a hurry, but taking a moment to proofread before you hit the send button can save much time in the long run. Avoid excessive exclamation marks.
Your Attachments: It is basic courtesy that you inform the recipient about the attachments included in your mail. You are waiting for a file to attach before you can hit ‘send’. How long does it take to say’ “Here you go,” instead of sending a blank mail. Would you rather risk your mail going to the spam folder, and save yourself a couple of seconds?
Reply Within 24 Hours: Nothing is worse than sending an email and waiting for someone else to respond. You should aim to respond within 24 hours- the earlier the better.
Avoid copying people on an email unless there is a good reason for it. Our inboxes are full enough without emails we really do not need to see. Use the – Reply all and Forward – functions sparingly
Mind Your Language: Profanity is definitely a taboo, but that is not the only thing you have to look out for. Find different ways to say the same thing. There is a difference between: Don’t call me after 5pm and I am available until 5pm. You are sharing the same information, but one sounds rude whereas the other sounds more open and affable.
Include the Previous email: If you are replying to an email, make sure that it is copied below your reply. Avoid making the recipient recollect your earlier mail, especially if you are referencing it in your reply.
No Caps: Typing in Caps is rude. It is considered the text equivalent to screaming. Secondly, the reader must read each letter instead of consuming the word as a whole. When you need to emphasize, utilize italics or bold typeface to get the message across.
Your email is a reflection of yourself. So do it right; Write it right; and email right. Putting yourself in your reader’s shoes can help you avoid the most common email mistakes and ensure effective communication.