“People live too much of their lives on email or the Internet or text messages these days. We’re losing all of our communication skills” – Tracy Morgan

Be that as it may, email is a tool that’s here to stay. To use it optimally, follow the so-called BRIEF —Background, Reason, Information, End, and Follow-up to ensure that your emails are concise but informative. It’s a good policy for verbal communication as well. This is a good way to avoid communication traps, such as being tone-deaf (to nuances in written communication). Email can, but never should become a substitute for real human interaction, because that will cause confusion and ultimately generate unnecessary work.

Plan what you want to write and to whom. Don’t ignore emails sent to you, but don’t go overboard with the “reply to all” button.

 Things to avoid in emailing – Forgetting attachments is the most common mistake. Thankfully, many email services have built-in forgotten attachment reminders that checks your email for phrases like “see attached”. If you have written this but forgot to attach the document / s in question, a pop-up will ask you if you’re sure you want to send the message without an attachment. The service won’t work without the word “attached” or “attachment” in the email, so attach your files before writing the message.

Using the wrong writing tone – Don’t be too formal with your staff unless your organization merits it, and don’t be too informal with superiors. It’s all about finding the middle ground.

Sending to the wrong person – As a manager, you’re more likely to be the victim of this than the perpetrator. It’s never a good idea to touch on personal issues when emailing, in every event. If you really must rant about how much you despise your manager, read your recipients list carefully, or use your personal email and write to your friends. Do not do so from the office computer. If you do send something you shouldn’t have, an “Undo Send” email feature would come in real handy.

What if you get a critical email from an employee, who obviously sent it to you by mistake? I would dissuade you from confronting him or her, even if you were hurt. Instead, think about whether the person might actually have a point. Use this as an opportunity to grow and change.

Sending at a bad time – Don’t send emails too late or too early (11:50 pm or 05:00 am). The emails might get buried by the time the recipient opens them. What’s more, people won’t appreciate the notification sound on their phone during these hours.

Neglecting your signature – Email signatures usually include your full name, job title, and contact information. Always include this on each email you send.

Using a bad font – If you are copying text from other sources when writing an email, the pasted text could bring some unwanted changes to the font – bigger size, transparent highlight in the background, or brighter color. Make sure you clear these changes in order to secure a professional look.

Failing to review – Before you send an important email, check it for factual and spelling errors. A manager who can’t spell is not likely to earn his subordinates’ respect. Take the time to remove typos, fix grammar mistakes and take care of rewriting residue. Don’t send out three sheets of text – emails must be brief and to the point, just like face to face communication. Don’t start with “To Whom It May Concern” either. Know your recipients and address all written communication to them. Even “Dear all” and “dear team” is better than this. “To Whom It May Concern” shows just how little you care who is going to get your email. When people see an email that starts with this, their impulse is to delete it and move to the next letter in their mailbox, unless they notice a law firm logo above the text.

Basic communication and writing aptitudes are vital in both maintaining your job and so you can be promoted in your organization. Good luck!

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