In the era of remote workers and overly full calendars, many of our workplace interactions are reduced to email threads. Regardless of the recipient, keep these 5 tips in mind next time you compose an email:
1. Only send emails when necessary
According to a 2017 study by the Radicati Group, the average office worker receives 121 individual emails every day. If a worker spent just 5 minutes reading and responding to each email, he or she would put in a 10-hour workday on email alone. So, it’s safe to assume that many emails are quickly deleted and most are just skimmed. If you want your emails genuinely read, never flood someone’s inbox. And always be wary of “Reply All,” as “All” may not be your intended audience.
Auto-correct is a great tool; however, it is not a perfect replacement for taking time to re-read and correct your own message. Proofreading is a great time to catch repetitive language and tighten up your overall message. In some cases, it may be even beneficial to ask a colleague to proofread your email for you. It is always better to have a typo or unclear messaging corrected by a trusted co-worker, rather than an important recipient.
3. Account for tone
Email is not a perfect medium! An attempt to be brief and to the point (i.e. “I need your analysis by 5 in order to meet the deadline”), may be interpreted as rude or condescending. Whenever possible, keep in mind the communication style of your recipient.
4. Put a call to action in the subject line
With the high volume of emails coming through each day, it is important to get to the point as quickly as possible. This is done by including action verbs directly in the subject line (i.e. “RESPONSE REQUIRED,” “ACTION NEEDED”). This will help your recipient to easily identify important emails when sifting through their inbox.
5. Never assume privacy
Always keep in mind that any email sent from a workplace email is property of your organization. As with any communication, remain loyal to the absent and remember that whatever you write can be easily shared with others. Even without malicious intent, an unsavory email thread can easily be forwarded in an attempt to share the associated calendar invite or a select piece of information.
Click here for a PDF that highlights the 5 email tips. The file is perfect to print, post, use, and share.
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.