The effort you put into an e-mail is a reflection on how much you care about the message you are sending as well as the recipient themselves.
- Avoid using slangs such as Hey, Yo, or a short abbreviated version of anyone’s name.
- People sometimes get carried away and put too many of exclamation points at the end of their sentences. The result can make you appear too emotional or immature. Exclamation points should be used sparingly. If you choose to use an exclamation point, use only one to convey excitement.
- Something perceived as funny when spoken may come across very differently when written. Humor can easily get lost in translation without the right tone or facial expression. Something that you think is funny might not be funny to your addressee. In a professional email, it’s better to leave humor out of the exchange unless you know the recipient well.
- Refrain from using fancy script or colored fonts. The cardinal rule: Your emails should be easy for other people to read. Normally it is best to use 10- or 12- point type and an easy-to-read font such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman, and black being the safest choice in color.
- Never press the send button until you are confident in having proofread your message. Your mistakes won’t go unnoticed by the recipients of your email. And depending upon the recipient, you may be qualified, measured or judged for making them.
- Avoid using tacky email addresses from your high school days. Bigboy@… Or sexgal@… This will surely convey a weak or unprofessional image that should not be used in the workplace.
- A poor subject line will lessen the chance that it will get opened and read. Be clear and concise with a pointed title. Examples of a good subject line include: “Question about your presentation,” “Meeting date changed”, or “Suggestion for the Smith quotation.”
- You don’t want to send an email to the wrong person or hit “reply to all” when you forgot to select the correct recipient. Even when you are replying to a message, it’s a good precaution to delete the recipient’s address and insert it only when you are sure the message is ready to be sent.”
- Beware of your tone. Just as jokes can get lost in translation, tone is easy to misconstrue without the context you’d get from vocal cues and facial expressions. Remember that it is easy to come off as more abrupt that you might have intended — you meant to be “straightforward and to the point” and they read “he must be angry and curt.”
- Your emails should be taken as “forever sent”. A basic guideline is to assume that others will see what you write. Never write anything you wouldn’t want everyone (including your Mother) to see. A more liberal interpretation: Don’t write anything that would be ruinous to you or hurtful to others. After all an email is dangerously easy to forward intentionally or not making it better for you to be safe than sorry.
We are not all perfect. But we should remember to do our best and put some effort into emailing. A sloppy e-mail sends an unprofessional signal to customers, present and future, and calls into question the attention to detail you will invest in the other things you do.
This article was written by Mark Boissoneault / Tradesman Mechanical Services.