Your email says a lot about you as an individual. Dos and don’ts
A few years ago, a colleague of mine — a senior corporate executive — had to send out a critical business email. She spent close to 30 minutes writing it, making several drafts. She even asked me to review it for her, insisting I make changes as I saw fit. And I did, much to her relief and satisfaction.
It was heartening to see the effort this individual was investing in one email. And why not? An email or any communication from you says a lot about yourself as an individual. It is a significant part of your own brand.
Though texting and all sorts of instant messaging apps have flooded our world over the past few years, and communication is no longer what it used to be, email continues to be the most preferred method of formal business communication. And therefore, knowing the dos and don’ts of it is relevant when it comes to demonstrating professionalism, whether as a student or as an employee.
A good email, like any other form of written, formal, communication, must demonstrate clear and concise language, an acceptable tone and follow the basic rules of grammar and spelling. The tone becomes critical especially if you are discussing sensitive matters because an email can never substitute face-to-face conversations. In such cases, it is advisable to have a chat or at least a video chat. Sometimes, what we say in an email can even be used as legal evidence — because it is a document.
When emails are sent on the run from smart devices, it pays to take a few seconds to read through them just to ensure there are no blunders. Smart devices are great but they are not all that smart — nothing to beat your own attention to detail. You know what they say about the devil being in the detail. And if it is an important email, it helps to get someone you trust to review it for you. Often, the devil you missed may be spotted by another pair of eyes.
Some months ago, I was sending out an email in a hurry from my phone. The magic of machine learning was at work and my device picked up the name of the recipient and completed it for me. The email was sent. Only later did I realize that the email was sent to the wrong person who had the same first name as the intended recipient, but a different surname. I can’t blame my phone because I had not noticed the blunder. It obviously put me in an embarrassing situation and I had to apologize and resend the email. Before clicking ‘send’, it always helps to check the email address in the ‘To’ field. And when we do this, we could also check if we have unnecessarily copied anyone on that email.
Equally important is the ‘Subject’ field. Does it convey crisply the content of the message? If you want the recipient to take an action based on your email, it would be a good idea to include that as well. For instance, if you want the recipient to send you some information about their insurance, your subject line could read, “Please send insurance data before April 30”.
In cases where the matter is urgent, it is best to pick up your phone and call the recipient. Just because we mark the email ‘important’ or ‘urgent’, it may not achieve the desired outcome because emails are not always expected to be read immediately.
Emoticons are a huge hit these days but are best avoided in formal emails. Even in cases where you know the recipient unless you are 100 per cent certain they will not misunderstand them, emoticons really don’t belong in formal communication.
With time, many of these practices will become second nature. But the first step always begins with awareness.
Source: The Hindu