Communication forms an integral part of our working relationship with others whether it’s verbal, non-verbal, written or through visual communication. emails have become one of the highly preferred communication channels. Averagely, we spend about a quarter of our workweek sending and responding to emails.
Whether it is an email, a memo, a report, a social media post, a contract, face-to face conversations etc. all forms of communication have the same goal to disseminate information with precision. However, that objective may not always be achieved mainly due to several factors including poor writing skills.
One important thing to note about written communication is that the message lives on. Therefore, you need to be sure of the message you are putting out there in terms of context, content, language, clarity etc. People form an impression of you based on your communication skills so it’s important to create a good first impression.
A well-crafted email can make the difference in effective communication and creating a successful working relationship. Appropriate email communication and etiquette may vary depending on various factors including sector, corporate culture and cross-cultural protocols.
Here are four golden rules every professional can follow to improve their email etiquette:
- Include a clear subject matter and consider the purpose of your mail
People may decide to respond or act on your mail based on your subject line. Your subject matter should be succinct and clearly communicate the purpose of your mail. Examples like “Meeting date changed” “peer review” among others are a clear way to communicate your message.
In cases where your email requires expedite action, include this in the subject line, but don’t overdo it. Open-ended emails can be quite confusing. You need to include timelines as practical as possible. Before you click the send button,
visualize what you want to achieve and modify your language to suit it.
- Observe all protocols-appropriate greeting, professional salutations, language
It is always important to start your emails with a formal salutation/ greeting and observe all protocols. However, this might be slightly different depending on the recipient. If you are writing to a close colleague, ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’ will
If you are responding to a chain of emails (thread), then it’s fine to respond without greeting. In other instances, if you are writing to your boss or senior colleague, based on your company’s culture you can address the person as Dear Sir/Madam, Mr./Ms. or by their preferred name. If you are writing to someone you don’t know so well, then always add a formal salutation and an introduction.
For example, Dear Joan, Pleasure to e-meet you. Take note of cultural differences when sending emails to people overseas. Using certain terms and emojis may be misconstrued and appear offensive. Always be mindful of the language and tone you use in your email. Using foul words in your emails may cost you your job. If there are issues you need to address with someone, tackle issues rather than personality.
- Always spell check
Before you press the send button, take time to re-read your emails to check for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, content, context, tone and language. Sending emails with mistakes speaks a lot. You might come off as not paying attention to detail.
- Respond in a timely manner
Ignoring emails is unprofessional and it is appropriate to respond to emails within 24 hours of receipt. Acknowledging receipt and explaining that you will revert on the matter at a definite time is more acceptable than ignoring it.
It’s all about context
At the end, it’s all about context and using the best approach based on the scenario. Who are you writing to? How well do you know the recipient? Do you know them personally (and to what extent) or just virtually? How do you perceive the email will be interpreted? And what are you trying to achieve through the communication? HR or Corporate Communications can help in implementing an appropriate internal communication styles and strategy which will set the tone for the organization.
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