Mastering the Art of Email Communication

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A well-crafted email can land you the job of your dreams, a big client or an important sale. Unfortunately, the wrong tone or wording in an email can cost you customers, jobs, and a good reputation. A good email isn’t just about proper grammar and punctuation. The tone and wording matter just as much, because auditory and visual cues aren’t available in written communication.

Know Your Audience

Emails to customers, clients or superiors will generally require a more formal tone. Use correct salutations and a complementary closing, just as you would with any business letter. Formality may be decreased as familiarity increases, but let the recipient set the tone for further communications. All professional emails require proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. Don’t ever send an email at work that you wouldn’t want your boss to read.

Tone is Important

An email can easily be misinterpreted because the recipient can’t read facial expressions or hear your voice. Informal email communications allow for emoticons to help recipients understand humor and sarcasm, but professional emails require more thought to ensure correct tone is conveyed. Don’t include anything that could be misinterpreted.

Make Responding Easy

Your emails may go unanswered because the recipient isn’t clear what you want or feels overwhelmed with your requests. Be concise, don’t ask questions that could be answered with a little research, and make the point of your email clear. Use bullet points and paragraphs for easy reading. If you are emailing a client or potential employer, show gratitude for the recipient’s time and don’t be greedy with your requests.

Proofread

Always proofread your emails. Ensure correct grammar, structure, and spelling. You are a representative of your organization (or yourself), and one error can impact others’ perceptions.

Use CC and BCC Wisely

The CC feature offers an easy way to keep relevant people in the loop, but it shouldn’t be used for all communications. Coworkers may become annoyed and start to ignore your emails if you continue to copy them on unimportant communications. The BCC should be used when you don’t want recipients to see each other’s email addresses. This will generally be for emails outside of the organization.

Following Up

Assertiveness is important whether you want to sell yourself to a potential employer or a product to a potential customer. However, aggressiveness can turn people off quickly. One or two emails should suffice. Follow-ups should be spaced to allow enough time for the recipient to read the email and think about his or her options. If a recipient doesn’t respond, assume he or she isn’t interested at this time. If you remain professional, they may come back to you when the time is right. Never show frustration or anger at a lack of response. It doesn’t help your case at all and, in the age of social media, can have much greater ramifications than you might imagine.

Email provides a quick and convenient method of communication, but it can be a problem if not utilized correctly. Sometimes face-to-face interactions or phone calls work better. When email is used, the sender should always proofread and pay careful attention to tone. With practice, professional email communications will become easier.

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