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8 Simple Tips Everyone Should Know About Office Emails

Updated on July 10, 2015

Have you ever wondered why your emails just don’t seem to get the attention that you need them to? How about when a colleague reads your email and only replies to a portion of the topics that you mentioned? This can be incredibly frustrating if you’re like most successful people, who have many important tasks to balance. Email has become one of the greatest work flow tools of the century but it also has become one of the most major barriers to production in many organizations. You hear it all the time. Employees feel that they are so buried in their email they can barely get their daily work duties accomplished. Efficient inter-office email skills are very valuable and rarely covered in training or even mentioned. Here are some simple ideas that you can share with those inside your organization to improve efficient communication skills.

1) Avoid carbon copying unless completely necessary. Have you heard of Copy Too Many People Syndrome? That’s right; its an epidemic sweeping most organizations. You should know which person in particular that you are addressing. Do your homework and reference an organizational chart if needed. Often times, even if you send an open ended question to as few as two people, you will find that they will wait to answer not knowing if the other person will provide a better answer. Then the email sits in email purgatory for way longer than it should and you are left without an answer that you need to get your job done. This effect multiplies the more people you copy on your email. The Cure: Be direct and make sure to know who is the most likely person to answer your question. Send your email only to them. This will also add a very valuable sense of responsibility to the recipient being there is nobody to bail them out of a response.

2) Only send responses when required. Not all emails require a response. Some are simply factual information sharing. Don’t be the person to send “Not Me” group responses. If someone from your organization sends a mass email to 30 staff members asking a general question, please don’t be the person to reply something that has no value and only requires the 30 other staff members to open and delete on more email.

3) One topic per email. Here is the problem with two or three topics per email. It’s hard for anyone to follow. Your recipient may be able to answer one or 2 of the topics pretty easily but needs to research the other for an answer. Now instead of giving you two or three answers, which might help you move on to completing your work the email just sits until they can find a solution to the final topic. Another thing that often happens one of the questions is completely overlooked. Every persons brain works differently and people get side tracked so keep it simple and send one topic per email and you will see your questions get answered faster and more thoroughly.

4) Any email over 5 sentences might be better as discussion. Most people look at their email as a task list. A bunch of small items they need to accomplish. When that novel sized email comes in, it instantly becomes the last one to be read. When an email exceeds 5 sentences it probably is important enough to have an old fashioned human interaction and discuss it verbally.

5) Never use ALL CAPS. You never can predict how this comes through to your recipient. It can read as if you are excited or yelling. Just avoid it all together as a courtesy to your colleagues.

6) Bullet points are your friend. They help keep emails nice and tidy. It also makes it much easier to follow the progression of topics on smaller devices like phones as well. There is a reason your 4th grade teacher used them in their outlines. It just works!

Include visual aid. Depending on the topic you are discussing you might find that visual aid will help to get you a faster response to your email.

7) Use screen shots when discussing computer or software related topics. Show your recipient what you mean when possible. Attach necessary references to your email like files, PDF, links or even photos. Do whatever you can to provide the person responding to your email all the proper tools, assuming that they are only working out of their inbox. This will greatly decrease your wait time for responses.

8) Respond in 1 business day or less. This is the golden unwritten rule that every organization should be following. Email is meant to get people information quickly. Emails generally should be answered within one business day of receiving it. If you need more time than that you should reply with a courtesy email acknowledging that you are working on it.


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