Business Communication

Hey Remote Worker! You Better be Using Email Best Practices

April 8, 2020

Alex Walters

The current COVID-19 pandemic has caused society to live their lives online. The United States and other countries in the world are under some form of social distancing order. These requirements have led to mass closings and limited operating hours for many businesses. However, people want to maintain their daily routines and attend work and school as usual. The internet has allowed us to do just that. Now, more than ever, people are relying on virtual correspondence to stay connected with one another. With so many people using the internet to communicate, it is vital that we pay attention to the messages we are sending.

Messages can easily be misinterpreted when people are unable to meet in person. Especially when people implement characteristics that should not generally be used in a message. For instance, caps lock can be received negatively because it gives the impression that the sender is yelling. Sarcasm is discouraged because not everyone has the same sense of humor. Failing to adhere to common guidelines can result in a breakdown of communication.

Miscommunication can affect relationships and ruin reputations as well. This can be detrimental in the professional sector because many companies are judged based on their customer service. Help demonstrate excellent customer service at your company by improving your email etiquette. The quality of your emails can be enhanced with the use of a few simple tips and tricks.

Most of us are aware that you should seldom start a professional email with the greeting, “What’s up?” Such phrases are commonly reserved for family members and close friends. The same could be said for abbreviations, slang, emojis, and special characters like exclamation points and caps lock. Those no-noes are a given. However, there are many other concerns people have about emails. It is important that we acknowledge them because they can affect the way your message is perceived.

Ask any of your co – workers about email etiquette and you can almost guarantee that they can identify some issues they have noticed during email correspondence. Jeff Henley, a Training Consultant at Phoenix TS stated that one of the biggest problems he has with email is how the subject line is used, “People use the same subject line although the subject has changed.” Henley also exclaimed that “people should read the email in its entirety before responding.” Alexandra Gerben, the Customer Service Coordinator at Phoenix TS explained that a way to build a great working relationship with your correspondents is to offer a nice greeting. Gerben says, “Whether you’re emailing a co-worker or a client, it should always start with “Good Morning or Good Afternoon” and continue with “Hi: Mr./Ms./Mrs.” It shows respect to whomever is receiving the email.” Issues such as those described are easy fixes, but they can go a long way to ensure that your message is positively received.

Similar sentiments were echoed in Hasan Osman’s book, Don’t Reply All: 18 Email Tactics That Will Help You Write Better Emails and Improve Communication with Your Team. Osman offers advice on how to produce better emails. Some of the tips Osman provides are common sense suggestions that many business professionals have heard before. For instance, Osman advises that we proofread our emails for spelling, grammar and clarity etc. He also states that time sensitive emails be answered immediately. (Osman)

Working professionals should be practicing these techniques already. However, are you aware that subject line should contain in as few words as possible what the content of the email is all about? This is explained as tactic number two in Osman’s book, Osman gives four tips for writing the perfect subject line. He explains that subject lines should:

  • Incorporate the 3 W’s (Who, What and When),
  • Use Prefix modifiers
  • Convey the meaning of the entire email content
  • Be modified in an email thread only when the subject of the email changes.  

Tactic number three in Osman’s book states that emails should generally be around 5 sentences long because shorter emails get answered quicker. If the email must be longer, it should be broken into 2 parts. (Osman) The first part of the email should be a brief summary of 5 or fewer sentences and the second part of the email should provide more in-depth details. (Osman) Each of the 18 tactics in Osman’s book gives an example and explanation of how the guidelines help improve the quality of your email.

The overall message of Osman’s book is, keep it simple. Do not complicate things. If you think that your message could possibly confuse or offend, do not send it. Read over your message and make sure that your message is clear and easy to respond to. Furthermore, remember to keep it professional. Approach every email positively. Clients, customers, business partners, and fellow teammates will remember how you approached them. What you say or do not say in your email can either make or break a relationship. During this challenging time when we are encouraged to distance ourselves from one another, let’s stay connected and build professional relationships with quality emails.

Phoenix TS offers currently offers several business communication courses “live online” that can help you and your team communicate more effectively. These include:

For information regarding these and more business communication and professional development course options at Phoenix TS, visit phoenixts.com or call us today @ 240-667-7757 to speak with a training and certification specialist.

Source: Osman, Hassan. Dont Reply All: 18 Email Tactics That Help You Write Better Emails and Improve Communication with Your Team. ebook, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015, https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Reply-All-Tactics-Communication-ebook/dp/B018MGHZWO.

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