On the Job

7 ways to write more effective email messages

Looking for how to come off as engaging, friendly, and professional, in your work communication? The good news is that you can do all that and much more just by writing better, more effective email messages.

While a decade or two ago most work communication was conducted either in person or by phone, today, email (and in some cases text messaging) has really taken over the workplace. Sure, there are still phones on most everyone’s desk, but we get the majority of our routine tasks done by way of email.

If you want to be more effective in communicating with others on the job, here are 7 email tips you need to be aware of:

1. Pay attention to details
Although a few typos or misspellings can generally be excused (or blamed on an overly aggressive smartphone spell checker), take the time to proofread your message before you hit the send button. You’ll look more professional and your message will be communicated more effectively as a result.

2. Stay calm
Some people love to use lots of exclamation points and emojis to express their emotions. Your messages will be much more easily understood if you stick with plain old-fashioned text with a bare minimum of punctuation and no emojis.

3. Be responsive
Try to get back to whoever sent you an email as quickly as you can, but prioritize your responses by importance. If something needs a response right now, then put that at the top of your to-do list. If something can wait, then let the person know you’ll get back to them in a certain amount of time, for example, by the close of business, or by the end of the week.

4. Use the correct address
Before you hit send, make sure you addressed your email message to the right person! Few things are more embarrassing than revealing yourself as careless by using the incorrect name for your email recipient or replying to all when you meant to reply to just one specific person.

5. Follow up if necessary
We generally assume that our messages have been received after we send them, but I know from my own personal experience that messages do sometimes get lost. When you need a response and you haven’t gotten it within a reasonable amount of time, don’t hesitate to send another message following up on the first message. Or, even better, pick up the phone and call or visit the recipient in person.

6. Express your gratitude
Thank the recipient in advance for taking action on whatever the topic of your email message is. Remember: a little thanks goes a very long way when you need to get something done through others.

7. Be concise and to the point
Make sure your email messages are short and concise and that they express what you intend in the least amount of words possible. We’re all busier than ever, and messages that don’t waste our time are appreciated—and far more effective.

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