12 Tips for Effective E-Mail Communication
by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.
1. At the beginning of the day, scan your inbox for urgent messages, and only respond to the ones that are most important or time-sensitive. Spend the rest of the time you would waste on reading junk mail to prioritize your day. This way, you will start your day with focus and motivation.
2. In order to reduce distractions and prevent you from getting off-track, dedicate a specific time in the day to respond to non-urgent emails.
3. Pick up the phone when the email chain starts to get too long, too complicated, or if you need an urgent response. The same rules apply to texting!
4. When composing an email, prepare a draft first. Then, take a break. Review again for tone, spelling, and grammar before sending. Ask an assistant, colleague, or friend for honest feedback on important emails. Find out whether they can understand the subtext you may be trying to convey without the assistance of body language. Remember, never send an email while you’re still angry!
5. Address the email to the person by name. Use “Dear Mr.” or “Ms.” when the situation is formal, or you need to be deferential. Use the standard “Ms.” when you are unsure whether a female recipient is married.
6. End the email with the proper closing, such as “Thank you” or “Sincerely.” Click here for a list of 57 ways to sign off an email, or to find out what your closing says about you.
7. Only include people on the email who need to be involved in the conversation. Carbon copying the entire office is not only annoying and potentially embarrassing, but could be breaching the confidentiality of the intended recipient.
8. Carefully consider whether to “reply all.” Is it something for which everyone needs to be kept in the loop, such as on a group project? If so, reply all. Also be sure to include anyone who has specifically asked to be copied on communications regarding a specific matter. If it’s private, confidential, or only applicable to specific people, only reply to them.
9. Be careful when sending out group emails and exposing the recipients’ email addresses to other recipients of the message. Sometimes, it is best to “bcc” the addresses to respect the recipients’ privacy.
Keeping it Organized
10. Always include a detailed description in the subject line, which can draw attention to the email and clearly convey its purpose. Use keywords that can help you find the email later through your email provider’s “search” feature.
11. When starting a new topic, create a new email rather than contributing to an endless string of emails. It reduces clutter and keeps you focused on the task at hand. It’s also easier to find the content you might be looking for later. However, if the recipient needs to know what happened in prior conversations, include the email thread. This is especially useful in customer service situations when someone made a mistake and you have the email to show what actually happened.
12. Include a signature block with your current contact information (name, title, company, address, email, phone, fax, website). Always include a phone number so that the recipient can easily call you without looking through their contacts or searching for your company contact information on the web.
With a background in employment litigation, Jennifer A. Grady, Esq. advises employers on ways to minimize the risk of litigation through proper documentation and employee management. She also counsels employees in individual or group settings on ways to improve their verbal and written communication skills, time management abilities, and customer service skills.
To schedule a complimentary consultation with Ms. Grady to find out how she may help your business, please fill out this Contact Request Form, or call (323) 450-9010.
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