The Do’s and Don’ts of Email Communication
Email has been around for decades. Today it is one of the prime movers of information and an essential communications tool that epitomizes the transformative power of technology. And yet, as with any tool, its effectiveness is determined by how it is used and what it is used for. This blog will guide you through some of the Do’s and Don’ts of effective email communication.
As a business owner of a communications company that specializes in producing digital content, I often
observe “email ping pong”; endless volleys of exchanges that would be better served by a real-time phone (or conference) call or meeting.
This misuse of a tool leads to frustration, diminished productivity, confusion and misinterpretation.
Just because it’s a click away, email is NOT always the best or most efficient means of communication. Many behaviors which are better suited for other tools like instant messaging, texting, phone/conference calls and face-to-face meetings, have found their way into email communication. Use this guide to improve your email IQ.
What to say
Email is ideal for static ASYNCHRONOUS delivery of data: facts, statistics, schedules, directions, instructions, etc.
Email is not particularly well-suited for dynamic, SYNCHRONOUS exchanges that require collaboration, problem-solving or brain-storming…activities that thrive on real-time input, feedback and dialogue.
How to say it
Channel your inner writer and use effective authoring rules, with a focus on clarity of thought, attention to detail, and command of language and vocabulary. Every email you send is a digital representation of your professionalism.
Spelling/Grammar-checks are no substitutes for diligence in composing a well-constructed email. The readily accessible and almost instantaneous nature of the technology can be wonderfully productive or dangerously damaging.
Respect your recipients’ time and CC individuals on a need-to-know basis. Include key decision makers when you need to establish accountability with delegated staff.
Avoid adding contacts to the email chain in an attempt to CYA. Don’t “hide” behind email…take ownership and be proactive and timely with your responses.
When to send
It’s so important to think before you transmit; review the intended recipients, proofread the content and be sure it’s clear and on point.
Don’t click Send in haste; avoid waste and embarrassment from emailing the wrong person, misspelling their name, or jumping the gun and risking redundancy. Never send a “knee jerk” email, driven by an emotional reaction. You will regret it later.
It would be best to think of email like speech; once the words have left your computer or mobile device, you can’t take them back. So be sure you proofread very carefully. (In my organization, we sometimes share and review important emails internally before sending them to clients). And don’t rely solely on spell-check; there are too (to, two) many homonyms that can slip by (buy, bye). Remember, email is a reflection of your communication skills and attention to detail. Unlike Snapchat, it has a perpetual shelf life.