June 17, 2014

The Secret to Reducing Email Clutter: Write Emails That Get Read

If you work from home you probably spend at least three or four hours a day writing and answering email.

Whether we like it or not, email is the dominant form of business communication today.  We may text, tweet or facebook our friends, but when we need answers or want results, email is the first choice.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the messages you write elicit the response you need without endless back and forth clarifications and questions? That would clear the clutter from your inbox!

Here are some suggestions to improve your email communications:

Write well

Be concise and to the point.

Use short sentences. Use active verbs.  Avoid the passive voice.  Make it easy for the reader to understand your message.

Always use proper grammar, punctuation and spelling.

There’s no excuse for sloppy writing.  Write complete sentences and avoid run-ons. Keep acronyms to a minimum or use them only if you are 100 percent certain they will be understood.

Use the subject line wisely. 

State what the email is about in the subject line.  Be specific, not vague.  The subject line: “Answer to question about fee schedule” is better than: “Answer.” Whenever possible, use the subject line to ask, answer or state your meaning.

Use a single subject for each email

Try to avoid multiple subjects within one email.  This will keep your emails shorter and more likely to get a response.

Re-read your email before you send it. 

Make sure it clearly, succinctly and unambiguously expresses your meaning.

 

Email is not private

Don’t put anything in an email you wouldn’t want posted on a public bulletin board

As much as we like to think our email is private, it is not.  It’s easy to hit  “Reply All” by mistake, or enter the wrong name from our contacts.  Never email confidential information.  Don’t criticize someone or something to a third party. Never be sexist, racist or libellous – even in jest.  Email messages are like vampires – they live forever.

There is no tone of voice in email. 

Be careful of your phrasing.  What sounds funny, ironic, or sarcastic as we write can come across quite differently when read. Emoticons can’t erase the sting of an unintentional verbal slap.

Never send an email written when you were hungry, angry, or tired.

Low blood sugar, volatile emotions or fatigue do not contribute to good communication.  Wait.  Re-read your email when you are well fed, calm and rested.  If it sounds okay, send it.

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