Please Don’t Make These 5 Mistakes In A Professional Email
Emails are a crucial communication tool in the workplace, but these days it’s proving way too easy to come across as unprofessional. Here’s how to raise your email appeal.
According to statistics from Email Stat Centre, over a third of the population will use email by 2019, not to mention over 80% of office communication is already being done through it. So it’s never been a better time to be clear, concise and overall professional when writing emails.
Emails are such an established part of any working relationship, so it’s particularly egregious when people continually commit the same mistakes over and over. At a bare minimum, we should be aiming to make receiving emails a pleasant and non-irritating experience. At best, we want our emails to actively encourage good communication and make work easier and more productive. That’s not so hard, right?
Here’s some of the biggest no-no’s to look out for in professional emails.
While you don’t want to come across as a robot, it’s far worse to be overfamiliar in work emails. This can include putting kisses and hugs in your signature or calling people ‘darling’ and even in some cases, ‘mate.’
Obviously in a safe and familiar office space, you can get away with it, but if you’re emailing for any sort of favour or request, it can make you seem less serious (and might even negatively impact the project you’re working on). If you’re e-mailing clients or people you’ve only just met, it’s better to err on the side of formality.
Furthermore, it can be tricky to convey tone via email, and what might be meant as a harmless endearment could come across as being condescending or creepy.
#2 “I know you’re busy, but…”
This is more about strategy, but it can have dire ramifications for anyone who is using their email to pitch, ask for a favour, sell a product or nail a job callback. For most people, it can be frustrating to be on the receiving end of an endless amount of time-wasting disclaimers. “I know you’re busy…” or “I’m sure you get a lot of emails like this…” or “Sorry if I’m wasting your time…” are popular ones. All these sentences do is highlight the huge ‘but’ that’s about to occur, where you finally hit people with your request.
By that time, the recipient is already a little unnerved, making them less likely to grant your request. These types of disclaimers can feel both whiny and cajoling, and even intimate that they might not want to read the email or grant the request in the first place.
#3 Chill! out! with! the! punctuation!!!!
The primary function of an email is to convey information, and anything that impedes the effectiveness of the email in doing that is something we need to get reconsider. Excess punctuation is one of the best ways to confuse communication – there’s just something about multiple and excessive punctuation marks that can just baffle the eye and obscure the message.
It can look a little messy and like you don’t have your shit together, and ain’t nobody got time for that.
#4 “Just wondering if you got my email?”
For most people, replying to emails immediately isn’t a possibility, which means some emails they receive can fall into an unread wormhole. So while following up on emails does have its place, it needs to be a considered issue.
Sending a reminder email on the same or following day can come across impatient, especially if it’s a ‘bump’ email reiterating the importance of something. There’s every chance that the recipient considers your email important, but has their own time frame to get to it. Being badgered into prioritising something may have initial benefits, but it might burn bridges in the long run.
Same goes for sending an email and immediately calling the person to tell them that you’ve sent it – you’re monopolising twice as much time, and wasting your own.
#5 Circling the point
I’m a wordy fellow myself, but even I don’t want to read a novel-sized email. Often getting an incredibly long email is a sign of one of two things: you’re trying to cover the fact that you don’t really know what you’re talking about and are trying to cover all the bases, or packing in too much information and clouding your message. Maybe that extra information is better utilised elsewhere or at a later time.
Long, rambling emails which include a ‘warm up’ intro, the life story of the sender or multiple segues are not efficient forms of communication, and a lot of the time will result in the recipient failing to read it. Everyone is time-poor, guy!
For those who tend to go a little overboard in the body of an email, consider it more of a pitch or a highlights reel, with additional information being offered as either an attachment or a follow up. Emails need to be concise, not the prologue to a novel.
Patrick Lenton is a writer and digital marketer. He runs Town Crier, a social media and marketing consultancy for authors.