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7 habits of the highly effective e-mailer

Updated on May 31, 2008

Always be polite and professional in your e-mails

It's time to get e-mail saavy!

E-mail has become a staple of our daily lives whether we are using it to communicate with friends, family, in business matters, or at work.

However, e-mails get pinged off pretty quickly and we are all guilty of sending ineffective e-mails that may leave our readers feeling puzzled, frustrated, confused, irritated, or all of the above.

Here are my 7 tips on how to improve your e-mailing skills:

1. ALWAYS include a relevant subject line.

Make sure your subject line describes what the e-mail is about in a concise manner that will allow your reader to locate when it's time for them to respond, if they need to refer back to it, etc.

Never leave your subject line blank, I can fully attest to the fact that "no subject" e-mails are annoying and hard to keep track of.

2. Decide exactly what your are going to write about in your e-mail and keep it clear and concise.

Should you include a list of things in one e-mail, or should you send one e-mail for each topic? There are pros and cons of each one, so it's up to you to decide which is appropriate. Write your e-mails in short sentences, use bulleted lists when possible, and spell check !

3. Always let the recipient know if you need them to respond and/ or what action is required.

Do they need to call you back? Did you e-mail questions that need answers? Are you looking for input?

Here are a few example statements for letting the reader know you need a reply:

" Let me know what you think!"

" When you get a chance, could you answer some questions for me?"

"If you could give me a call at your earliest convenience, that would be great!"

4. Always use a signature on all of your e-mails.

Make sure your signature includes your full name, phone number, mailing address, fax (if applicable), e-mail, and website (if applicable).

Your readers need to know how to get a hold of you in-case your e-mail requires a phone call, or sparks questions, or someone needs to ship something you requested, and so on.

5. Don't get emotional in e-mails.

Did you get an e-mail that made you feel angry, irritated, very upset, sad, etc ? Before you fire off a reply sit on the e-mail and do not respond until you have cooled down enough to send an appropriate, non-reactive e-mail.

*Remember when you send e-mails you have to operate under the assumption that the e-mail is likely to get forwarded at least ten times, and anyone and everyone can and will see that e-mail you've sent!

So don't let a "reactive" e-mail come back and bite you in the ass, it happens all the time and it's never pretty!

6. Be just as concise, clear, and professional in your responses as you are in the e-mails you sent.

Make sure you have thoroughly read the e-mail you received and to ensure you have fully understood what the sender is trying to say.

Make sure you read all the way down to the end if it's a conversation amongst many people that is getting forwarded to you so you can stay up to speed.

If you are unsure about something in the e-mail, don't be afraid to ask a question.

Be polite, and answer all of the senders requests and questions. Stay on top of your e-mail and check it often. The easiest way to piss someone off is to not acknowledge their e-mail. If you can't respond at the moment you read it, write back and confirm receipt to the e-mail and let the sender know when you are going to follow up.

7. Are you going to be away for more than a half business day? Set your "Out of Office" agent/ reply message up.

  • Be sure you state when you are out of office
  • State when you will be back in office
  • Leave the e-mail address and phone number of someone senders can contact in the event of an emergency
  • Let them know when you will reply to the messages received while you were out

How E-mail works

Blackberry Accessories for those who are with it and e-mail all day!


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

    • John Chancellor profile image

      John Chancellor 

      10 years ago from Tennessee


      You are so right on target. I am not sure why but people are extremely careless when it comes to email. You have provided a very valuable tool for everyone who uses email. I just hope it gets read and your advice gets followed.

      Thanks for the excellent advice.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great article! I put a link to it on my Squidoo lens about email law compliance. Thanks!

    • solarshingles profile image


      10 years ago from london

      Very good and useful knowledge about emailing. Thank you for this very precise and clear suggestions! ('don't get emotional' - I really need to restrain myself a bit more on this topic, though)


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