Here are some of the most common email messaging mistakes, and how to avoid them. Some of the ways to avoid them are pretty obvious, otherwise, I’ve included suggestions on how to avoid them:
- Hitting the send button before the message is complete. Proofread before sending.
- Hitting the send button without attaching the referenced attachments. Proofread before sending.
- Copying too many extraneous people on a message. Send to ONLY those who really need to see the message.
- Having vague or general subject lines; the more specific the better. VERY specific is the best practice.
- Trying to have a discussion by e-mail with several people. If you need to have a discussion call a meeting, teleconference, or set up a chat room for everyone to participate.
- Poor grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Proofread before sending. Oh, and don’t forget spell check!
- Writing an e-mail message when you are emotional or angry. Don’t
- Crafting an e-mail message in the middle of the night, when you are not on all cylinders. It is much better to save it, and review it by the light of day before hitting the send button
Interestingly, most of these mistakes can be avoided by an added step of proofreading, and slowing down just a bit.
What do you think?
If you think there are no consequences of writing a ‘bad’ or ineffective email, think again…
I can think of several… Among the consequences of writing a “bad” or ineffective e-mail are:
- Productivity sapper: Multiple e-mails going back and forth, creating more work for not only others, but yourself, hence a productivity drain.
- Poor impressions: Poorly worded or crafted e-mail messages may cause others to judge your leadership or communication abilities.
- Lack of Control: Because e-mail messages are a permanent written record of your communication, once the e-mail is sent, you can no longer control who sees that message.
- Falling into the wrong hands: If the message is inappropriate or improper or just stupid, once it gets into the wrong hands there can be further complications.
- Career limiting: An accusatory or nasty e-mail can be career limiting, once again due to the fact that it is a written record and can fly through cyberspace.
Have any others? Please share!
There are alot of “never do’s” when it come to email, but here are my top five:
- Never throw anyone under the bus by e-mail, that is… don’t put criticisms in writing.
- Never try to provide helpful constructive feedback by e-mail — you can guarantee that it will be misinterpreted.
- Never use profanity, ethnic barbs, or sexist verbiage
- Never criticize the boss or the company by e-mail, even to your best friend — you never know where it could end up
- Never violate company policy regarding the use of e-mail. If policy states that you should not use company e-mail for personal use, don’t.
For other best practices, you might want to check out our prior post, Thirty Quick Email Etiquette Tips
Any other “nevers?” Please share!
I get this question alot… and frankly it baffles me that people even ask it.
The answer is:
It is extremely important that your e-mail correspondence at work is both professional and effective; frankly if those messages are not, it could be a career limiting behavior.
Managers and coworkers draw conclusions about your professionalism every time anything you do “touches” them, and e-mail provides more touches in a day than telephone or in person discussions. To use poor grammar, to ramble, to misspell, etc. provides a written documentation of your less than professional way of communicating. And even more, it is permanent!
Additionally, if people don’t like the way you communicate, you may lose credibility with those people who can impact your department’s or business’s success, thereby inhibiting your own success.
Best practice: proofread, proofread proofread. Then read it again before you send it. One last time!
We’ve all done it. The meeting is going on and on. Your boss is rambling. You “get” the gist of the concept. You’re bored. Your mind drifts. Hmmm. Wonder what newfound treasure has appeared in my PDA? Who will notice if you sneak a peak?
Your boss will. Others in the meeting will. Don’t do it. You could be committing career suicide.
Robert Half & Associates recently conducted a study of 150 senior executives, which showed that 31 percent of them found it inappropriate for employees to check PDAs during meetings. Despite this finding, 86 percent of the senior executives polled had witnessed people engaging in this behavior.
So, if nearly one out of three execs in the study saw that behavior as inappropriate, the odds are against you. And the others in the meeting, who could be future executives, could also have an impact on your professional future.
Behavior in meetings can be career enhancing or career busting. People draw conclusions about people’s leadership styles, preparedness, communication, and value by how they participate in meetings.
So if you want to short cut your career, just pull out that PDA.
Why can the quick check of that PDA be so hurtful?
Consider this. We’ve all been in conversations with people who look elsewhere while talking with us. It’s irritating because it appears that they’re looking for someone more important to meet, or just plain aren’t focused on the conversation at hand. It’s rude. Translating this to the sneak check of the Blackberry, we’ve just done the same thing. We’ve taken our focus off the subject at hand effectively insulting the party running the meeting or the person across the table.
PDAs are no different from any other new technology, and guidelines as to expectations and usage must be set. The constant access provided by PDAs means that they can easily lead us to become consumed by work during all hours. By not encouraging people to maintain a good work-life balance, productivity suffers, and employees become so involved in responding to messages that they may act in ways that can be career-damaging – and potentially even hazardous. Checking and responding in meetings is not the only PDA career blunder. Here are some others:
• Placing the PDA on the meeting or dining table
• Having sound reminders that go off while in meetings or public events
• Having long sound reminder themes that play loudly – no one needs to hear a full song every time you receive an email
• Reading email while attempting to have a conversation
• Playing videos and other sounds loudly
• Typing while you are walking or driving
If you follow a clear set of guidelines, however, PDA technology becomes a powerful ally that can enhance your career:
• Show respect for meeting organizers and avoid annoying your colleagues by turning off your PDA before the meeting starts and keeping it out of sight.
• If you waiting for an urgent call or email, inform the meeting organizer in advance that you may have excuse yourself for a moment to attend to an urgent matter.
• When in a meeting, having a one-to-one conference, or at a restaurant, do not put the PDA on the table or check it in the middle of a conversation – it gives the impression that the PDA is more important than with the subject at hand.
• When you need to type a message, excuse yourself and find a private place to do it.
• Set the ring tone volume only as high as you absolutely need, and avoid ring themes that are lengthy or annoying.
• Turn all ring tones off when the lights go down whether you’re at the movies, at a concert, or at any other a public event.
• Take control of your PDA, not the other way around. Decide when you are going to turn it off so that you can focus on your family, your hobby, or your spouse – and leave it off.
• Never text while driving. Never check or read email while driving. Never search your address book for contacts while driving. The consequences could be devastating – and not just for you.
As with any other tool, when used with appropriate guidelines, PDAs have the potential to increase efficiency and productivity. But if you’re not careful, the constant connectivity they provide can quickly become all-consuming and career limiting. Managing your career means managing the impressions others have of your abilities and values. Respect for others is a leadership trait universally admired.
Do yourself a favor. Keep the Blackberry out of sight and out of mind when your attention should be on something else.
College Students (and others…) Listen up! Good advice on crafting email messages from Neltje Maynez:
When you are in college, or taking classes from an online university, many students are concerned about their class work and keeping up in class. In today’s world, it is even easier to keep in touch with professors. A student merely has to send an email to a professor. They don’t even have to talk face to face. Many professors like emails because they can provide accurate information to the student. However, many professors don’t like email because they feel that students are far too informal with the emails they send. Too often, professors say that they see things like, “Lol”, “Ttyl”, “hee hee” and professors have no idea what those even mean! This skills that are used when you are in college will be used in the workplace. Whether you are a student, or a professional, here are 10 rules to writing a professional email. Your professor (or boss) will be pleased, and you will probably receive a quicker response.
1. Make the Subject Line Count
You want your the person you sent the email to first open your email. They get tons of emails a day, and if it is urgent, you want the recipient to read it. Include what class it is for, and what questions you have. The professor will appreciate it.
2. Get to the Point
If you are able to present the problem in the first sentence, the person will be more willing to help you.
3. Identify Yourself
Especially if this is for a professor (and even a boss) tell them what class you are in, and what section. Many professors teach many classes, and if you tell them which class you are, it will help them answer your questions even faster. If it’s for work, make sure that you are clear about what you are asking about.
4. Keep the Text Language to Yourself
Avoid anything such as “brb”, “ttyl”, that may be good for texting, but keep it out of emails.
5. Keep it Short
You want your email to be very short. Keep it around 1to 2 paragraphs. If it is longer than that―but you must send it, try including bullet points. The recipient will be more likely to read it. If you have a lot to say, try just talking to the professor. It will be easier for both parties if you need to talk at length.
6. Say Hello!
It is always nice when you add a small hello, or good morning, or good afternoon. It shows that you are trying to be polite. You aren’t bothering the recipient with lots of showy sayings, but you aren’t being rude either.
Make sure to read your email before you send it. You will be able to catch a lot of mistakes. Your professor and co-workers will respect you if you can spell and have proper punctuation. This will also get you in the habit of reading over your work before you submit it.
8. Be Pleasant
Just because you are annoyed with a professor or co-worker, don’t show it in your email. They will be less willing to help you.
9. Respond Fast
Email is supposed to be fast. If you don’t respond within 24 hours, the person you sent the email to will forget about your question. Even if you respond and tell the person that you got their email, but you don’t have the time to draft an appropriate answer, let them know. They will appreciate that you took the time to inform them.
10. Have an Appropriate Signature Line
Make sure that if you have a signature set up on your email, it is profession and free of quotes, silly fonts, or smiley faces. Others will think you are immature if you send them an email and your signature is something in pink with smiley faces.
Writing emails can be an art. You want to be pleasant while getting straight to the point. If you learn to write good emails to your professors, they will want to help you. You will also be building skills when you go to the professional world. Any professional appreciates a well-written email.
Neltje Maynez is a current writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers is a site that helps people get to their top careers.
What to you think of Jessica’s tips?
If there is one golden rule for writing business emails, it is this: do not write anything that you would not write in a paper letter. Approach your professional email correspondence with the same mindset you would have for hard-copy letters. Here are a few more specific tips.
• Stick with a simple, easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman, and always use black as the text’s color.
• In the salutation, there is no reason to stray from the classic “Dear Mr./Ms. _________” form, at least for initial contacts. Of course, if the recipient has invited you to use his or her first name, you should do so—but never assume otherwise.
• In the body of the letter, use simple, direct and polite phrasing, accompanied by proper spelling and grammar. Take advantage of spell-check programs. Avoid writing in all capital letters, which comes across as shrill, or all lower-case letters, which seems juvenile.
• Do not send large, unsolicited attachments. Instead, make an initial inquiry asking permission to do so.
• Conclude your letter with some variant of “Sincerely,” and always remember to include your own name afterwards. Beneath your name, you can add the elements you would include in a business letterhead, such as your company’s website or other contact information; just do not overdo it by creating a signature of more than about five lines.
• Even though email is sometimes called “instant communication,” you should give your recipient a reasonable window of time to respond to your email. For your part, always respond to others as promptly as you can.
Please enjoy this guest post by Sierra Greenman…
When I worked at my second job, I was always told to smile while I was talking on the phone. The idea behind this concept was so that my smile would translate into talking with a happy voice. Well, I believe the same goes for e-mailing. There are ways you can “smile” through an e-mail to show people you care. Here are a few tips.
1. Ask Them How They Are Doing
The first way to get to a client or co-worker is to ask them how they are doing. They’ll appreciate that you took the time to think of them and ask how life is going.
2. Remain Caring Within an E-mail
Of course you want to stay professional when e-mailing, but if you also want to remain caring, you can bring up something that they’re currently excited about. For example, if you know a client has a daughter in dance and an important dance recital just took place, ask them how it went. They’ll like that you cared enough to think of them and “smile” through your e-mail.
3. Type in a Smiley Face
If you are on friendly terms with a boss, co-worker, or sales lead, it never hurts to type a within your e-mail. Whenever they see your smiley face they won’t be able to help but smile themselves.
Staying happy and smiling through your e-mail will make work more productive and people a lot happier. We all need a lot more smiling in e-mails, don’t you think?
Sierra is a freelancer and writer. She enjoys being a featured fashion blogger for JoeShopping.com, a social shopping site. Discover happy cards that make you smile from JoeShopping.com and save with American Greetings Coupons. Sierra also runs her own personal blog at Ocean Dreams.
Here are 10 great email etiquette tips by Sean Gray:
E-mail is a fast and effective tool for communication in business. There is a certain expectation of etiquette that is required to maintain professional communication. While e-mail is often used as an informal tool, it is essential that in the workplace it is used with professional etiquette.
The following 10 tips can help you and your employees maintain professional and positive relationships with clients, fellow employees, supervisors, and potential customers.
1. Write in complete sentences and check for spelling and grammar mistakes
2. Do not write in all caps.
3. Get to the point. Do not write long, laborious e-mails.
4. Be careful when choosing, “Reply All”. Make sure your reply is indeed intended for “all”.
5. Reply to e-mails in a timely manner. In this day and age of technology, it is understood that all e-mails are usually received within minutes of sending. It should not take a weekor more to reply.
6. Do not use emoticons in business replies. Emoticons are informal and not appropriate in business communications.
7. Do not use e-mail to relay confidential information.
8. Do not forward e-mails that are libelous, defamatory, racist or sexist. This could land your business or company at the other end of a lawsuit.
9. Choose a meaningful subject for easy review.
10. Use BCC when sending out large mailings. You do not want to indicate that the message is being sent to a large group of recipients nor do you want to publish other recipients’ e-mail addresses without permission.
It has happened to everyone, they get an email that just sets them off. This happened to me last week. I was getting ready to leave for the day, and Ijust so happened to check my email, and I found a scathing email from one of my co-workers. I was so mad, it said some things in there that shouldn’t be said in an email. At first, I wanted to respond right away with my thoughts. Then, I decided that it wasn’t such a good idea. If this has ever happened to you, here are 5 tips to dealing with an extremely scathing email.
1) Don’t respond right away
The first thing that you will want to do when you get a mean email is reply with a few choice words of your own. Don’t do it. Again, don’t do it! You won’t believe how many conflicts you can avoid if you wait before hitting reply. Allow yourself to calm down and figure out why the person sent the email. Count to three, take a bathroom break, just don’t reply to the email just yet.
2) Be Polite
After you have cooled down a bit, and you are ready to reply to the email, think about what you are going to say. Start off the email being polite, don’t let the person sending the email get the best of you. If you can show that it doesn’t affect you, they won’t bother you. Sometimes, the sender won’t even mean to have a harsh tone, and if you start the email off nicely, they will think that the email they sent was silly.
3) Offer a solution
Even if you are mad, offer a solution. Offer to fix the problem, or better yet, offer to talk to the person face to face. If you do this, you will be able to solve problems a lot faster.
4) Stand your ground
Just because someone is mad at your for something, doesn’t mean that you should back off because they sent you a rude email. If you are in the wrong―and you know it―apologize. If you don’t think that you are, don’t let people walk all over you. If it gets too complicated, offer to talk in person. You might think that someone was trying to be rude, when in reality, they meant something completely different.
Emails are sometimes hard to address. Because emails are written, it is a lot easier to write something mean rather than facing someone else. If you get an email where you feel attacked, follow these four steps. You will feel a lot better about dealing with the situation. If you follow these steps, you will also not do something (or write) something
About the Author
Neltje Maynez is a freelance writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them, helps them understand which online masters degree programs are right for them and which online schools they can choose from to reach their goals.