Someone ironically once told me via email, “you should write a blog about real-time communication.” This comment was in response to an email miscommunication. I couldn’t hear her tone or sense any sarcasm, and I took something the wrong way. It’s been a while since I last experienced this issue. This day and age, almost everyone communicates online. I assumed most of the “digital immigrants” had assimilated and learned the ways of us “digital natives.”
So…for those of you fresh off the “real-time communication” boat, here’s a few pointers when communicating via email.
- Write clear and concise subject lines. Your subject line should tell the reader what they’re about to read (go figure). Make them accurate but not rude. Short but not vague. Email subjects like “Do me favor,” won’t always go over well.
- Start with the most important information first, when writing the body of your email. Nothing is worse than being surprised with a giant project or task after a friendly conversation about where to eat lunch.
- Keep your emails short. If you feel the need to write a novel or can’t get your message across in a paragraph or two, then you’re using the wrong channel of communication.
- Check your spelling and grammar. Nobody’s perfect, but there’s no excuse for not running a spell check at the very least. Set your email to do this automatically before sending.
- Write an email you wouldn’t want anyone else seeing. Just ask yourself, “if a million people accidentally read this tomorrow, would I be embarrassed?” If you feel the need to gossip, complain about work or swear a lot, save it for later.
Emails are never private, so don’t use email to talk about private stuff!
- Write the entire email in the subject line. Seriously, how annoying is it to get an empty email with all the information crammed into the subject? The reader will spend more time trying to decode the message than it would have taken the sender to just explain it in the body.
- Use sarcasm if you don’t know the person. Cracking jokes and trying to be funny with strangers can go all sorts of wrong. Save your sarcasm for only those you truly know, and who truly know you. Or blogs. If your content requires a certain tone you can’t express with written words, pick up the phone (it’s that thing with the keypad that lives inside your pocket computer).
- Use capital letters. CAPITAL LETTERS IN EMAILS = YELLING!!!
- Send chain emails, spam or anything with naked people in it. Just don’t.
- Use ridiculous backgrounds, fancy colors or anything that makes the email more difficult to read.
What email tips do you have? Horror stories?