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19 Mar 2020
Did you know that over half of the world’s population uses emails or that Millennials (people born between 1980 and 2000) love them? In fact, one-third of Millennials prefer email for work communication, rather than phone calls, instant messaging, or video.
However, Millennials are very email savvy and there’s nothing that annoys them more than poorly written content or badly targeted marketing messages. We thought we would take a look at some email dos and don’ts.
Things to avoid
On average we receive over 120 emails at work every day and send about 40. There’s plenty of potential for things to go wrong.
If you don’t want to upset your colleagues, there are some things that should be banished from your emails.
Assumptions - things like ‘…as I said in my last email…’ or ‘thanks in advance’ assume that someone has read and remembered every precious word you sent them. They probably haven’t, so you need to work much harder to get the response you want.
Not conversations - words that might have straightforward meanings when you are speaking with someone face to face can be easily misunderstood via email. To avoid confusion, don’t treat emails as if they are conversations.
Get the tone right - getting the right balance of formality, tone and purpose will make your emails shine, but it is literally easier to say than to do. When you are speaking with someone, you will get a lot of feedback from the tone of their responses, their facial expression and their body language. That’s all missing when you send an email, so you must be very clear and precise.
Be confident - Words like 'maybe', 'perhaps' and 'just' will create a sense of uncertainty or suggest lack of confidence. Your reader wants to know that whatever you are saying is important enough to spend time reading. Make these words taboo in your emails.
- include a greeting with the person’s name – they are much more likely to read on
- use all the recipient's names if there are fewer than five people in the email chain
- reread your email before sending it – it’s surprising how many typing mistakes can creep in and you might realise that what you have said is unclear
- give people a reasonable time to respond – if you need to know something quickly, ask them to respond by a specific time.
- use casual language, text-message-style abbreviations (eg. btw, omg), or swear words
- reply to everyone in a distribution list if your response only needs to be seen by the sender
- write whole words or phrases in capital letters – it’s like shouting
- email the person sitting next to you unless you need to keep an electronic record – even then, let them know you’re going to send them an email to confirm your conversation
- reprimand someone in an email; speak to them in person.
You will probably exchange a lot of work-related emails, so it’s worth spending some time thinking about the impression you want to make.
If you work as part of a team, discuss the style and standards you expect. This will help you to make sure you create a consistent and professional impression.
The key to success is remembering the purpose of your email. Include a clear title in the subject line to help the reader to understand why you have contacted them and to avoid your email ending up in their Junk folder.
If you haven’t exchanged emails with someone before, explain clearly why you are contacting them and what you would like them to do.
Once you have carefully composed your email, you will need to close it. Again, some words or phrases might be good on the telephone or face to face, but are they the right way to close your email?
Best wishes –this is not too formal and is friendly, but will not be appropriate for all emails, so check your content to make sure it’s appropriate.
Cheers – this is friendly too and might be appropriate for someone you know well. However, it shouldn’t be used to imply a relationship that you don’t have with the recipient.
Best – short for ‘Best wishes’, it is unlikely to offend anyone, but might seem a little off-hand or even careless
Regards/Sincerely –more formal and probably should be reserved for letters.
Do you mean it?
Here are some words and phrases that you might be tempted to use, but which could mean something different to your reader.
|Your email says…||Your reader thinks you mean…|
|Hope this helps||Just stop bothering me|
|I see your point||You can express your opinion, but I don’t care|
|As stated below||I can’t be bothered to answer your question; the information is somewhere in the email chain|
|Kind Regards||I can’t be bothered to think of a better way to close|
|Moving forward||Stop wasting my time and get on with it|
|Let me clarify||You completely misunderstood my last message|
|Per my last email||Re-read everything I have sent to you|
|Thanks in advance||I expect you to do what I have asked|
|Sorry for being unclear||You need to pay more attention!|
|Just checking in||I'm going to keep sending you emails about this until you respond|
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