The Seven Deadly Sins of Email Writing

Emma Buckby

3 Dec 2012

If you asked a sample of employees in any office in any major city worldwide what infuriates them about modern email usage you would probably end up with a list at least several pages long. However, here are seven of the most common cardinal sins of email writing

1. Use the reply to all function at your peril – use this very sparingly if at all; think carefully whether all the original recipients need to receive your reply and if they don’t then remove them

2. Never send non-business related updates or requests to company-wide distribution groups – think about the impression it gives to colleagues who don’t know  you very well or to senior managers each time you send an email about your lost glasses, biscuits you’d like to share or  your latest charity endeavour

3. Never put someone in copy if you expect them to action your email – if you want someone to do something it is only courteous that you ask them directly and that you indicate that the email is for them by putting their name in the ‘To’ field

4. Don’t send very large attachments, particularly to multiple participants.  You risk not only clogging up their inbox but also slowing down their system as the message downloads

5. Don’t use an old thread to start a new topic of conversation – this is lazy and many people use the subject line to search for an email they need to reference and so having information about one client stored in an email thread about a completely different project will confuse and frustrate your reader

6. Don’t add new recipients part way through a conversation.  If they need to be involved they should have been included from the beginning or otherwise have a separate conversation with this person

7. Never forget to give your email a read through before you send it – spelling someone’s name incorrectly, getting a date wrong or not answering all the questions you have been asked will cause great frustration to your reader

So if you want to avoid being seen as an email sinner do your best to avoid committing these email crimes.  Following an email writing course can help enormously but even taking a few extra minutes to think about the impact of your email and then making the necessary changes will save you time in the long run and no doubt improve your business relationships.

 

 



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