1. Watch the e-mail length. Short is always better, but if you must send a long e-mail or are required to document something, provide a basic summary at the top of the e-mail noting any action required by the receiving party. This will enable them to do what they need to do and then refer to your notes at a later date.
2. Keep the focus. Sometimes we hit “reply” or “forward” and don’t even think about the string of e-mails listed below. Make your comments, but remove any unnecessary information. Time is always of the essence.
3. Be specific with the subject line. Nothing is more frustrating than getting an e-mail that reflects nothing about the subject. Often the original subject was the intended message, but somewhere along the way, the content changed. Make sure to update the subject line to reflect the changes in your message.
4. Follow a format. There should be a beginning, middle and an end to your e-mails. Please note, this rule is particularly important if you have been accused of sending abrupt e-mails, but it doesn’t mean that your e-mails need to be long. The beginning might be: “Hi John, I hope you are having a good day.” The middle indicates your request. And the end could simply be, “Thanks so much.”
5. Avoid a virtual conflict. If you receive an e-mail that even slightly reflects conflict, do not respond via e-mail. E-mail is made up of words, only 7 percent of what we communicate. Therefore, you cannot determine someone’s tone. Pick up the telephone and call the person or go to see them, but DO NOT respond via e-mail.
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 2, Issue 3 (March, 2012).
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