Communicate unto other people; that which you would want others to communicate unto you! For me, this adage has lot of meaning to it.
These days it is very difficult to think of anyone who does not use emails at work. E-communication has become a part of our day-to-day business. Considering this, it becomes imperative to use emails in the best possible manner to bring out their effectiveness.
I have seen emails being drafted in a very casual manner without any thought to content, grammar or spelling. This frustrates me immensely and makes me think what it would take for people to adhere to a little email ettiquette!
Here are a couple of golden rules that I follow to initiate or reply to emails to avoid unnecessary email traffic:
- Brevity: It is the initial five seconds that can capture the attention of the reader hence keep the email as brief as possible but bringing out the crux of the conversation. Even if an update email is being sent, ensure to first make a draft and go through it to ensure that all required information and data has been included but there is no unnecessary overload
- Checks: Do a grammar and spelling check to ensure an error free email. Also check for formatting mistakes. There is nothing that undermines your credibility as quickly as simple oversights like these.
- Meaningful Subject Line: The subject should be appropriate to the content which helps in tracking the to and fro on the same topic. But in case the topic changes during the exchange, consider changing the subject to reflect the new topic.
- Email Responses:
- Emails should be read and understood for its content so that what has been sought is being replied to in its entirety to avoid starting a long chain of messages.
- There are times when you get emails which may cause you to respond in a certain way but which you may regret later. These kind of emails need kid glove handling and hence it is better to read them, and read them again, and park them for sometime until you have time to consider your response, rather than sending an angry response immediately. After suitable time you can draft an appropriate response and once you are sure of its tone content, only then click the send button
- If a revert is to a set of queries, it is better to do an inline revert to each query so that the sender is able to co-relate your answers to each one. In case there is no immediate revert to some of the queries, it is absolutely perfect to mention that you are planning to revert after a certain time.
- Standardisation: If there is an update at regular intervals, it’s better to standardise the format and subject line so that the recipients receive a familiar format which enables them to just absorb the required data rather than spending time reacquainting themselves with the format and the data
- Recipients: “To” Recipients should have emails marked only to the people from whom action is required or who have raised some query. “CC” should have people who need to know about the content of the email for their information. Never include more than required people in the email
- Reply Discipline: If you are in receipt of an email where many recipients are marked and you have a query or probably some remark which does not require all to know, avoid doing a reply all
- Attachments: If you need to send an attachment and the file is large in size, please do compress the size of the file and then attach. Similary, if you are in receipt of an email with an attachment ensure you “Reply only” and not “Reply with attachment”.
“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” By Brian Tracy.
With this thought, I sign off.