At work, you represent yourself with email. You email your clients and colleagues more than personally talking to them. Yet why do so many people suck at writing emails?
These mistakes are annoying, yet rampant and no-one tells you how to fix them.
Compare this to cooking. To the others our dish might taste terrible, but for us it’s the best.
Here are the 11 email writing mistakes that drive your clients and coworkers insane, yet no-one tells you about them. They’re rarely corrected. Stop making them NOW.
Never USE Phases
“Let me know the best time for you”
By letting the person choose a convenient time you think you’re doing them a favor. You assume, that they’ll pick a convenient time and you’ll adjust accordingly.
Nothing could be more wrong than this.
You’re asking the other person to do the ground work. They have to check the calendar, look for convenient time, pick 2/3 options (Since 1 never works) and write an email presenting them to you.
You might just send them an email saying “hey dude, could you get my laptop”!
“Apologies for delayed reply”
Another sentence commonly used is “sorry for taking this long to reply”. This could be followed by an apology such as “sorry I was totally booked this week”. What you mean is “I’m very busy and important”.
This phrase means that you’re thanking the other person for their patience. Always remember, never apologize when you’re supposed to thank them.
Instead write “Thanks for being patient”. This sends positive vibes. We have too much negativity to add some more.
“I’d love your opinion on this”
You couldn’t sound more self-centered than this. What’s in it for the recipient? (Why would he give his opinion?)
Draft the subject line in such a way that it shows the recipient what’s in it for him, not for you.
“It’d be great if you”
While requesting a person to take action, never hide it. Here you portray posing an interrogation as a declaration.
Instead, frame it as “Could You”. This gives the person an option to say yes (mostly) or no.
Instead of declaration, use interrogation to show your vulnerability.
Email FORMATING Mistakes
One long paragraph
Remember: Your paragraphs should not be more than 3 lines. Long paragraphs take too long to read and cannot be skimmed. Make it easy for the reader to get the main points by merely glancing.
Inconsistent number of line breaks between paragraphs
How often do you receive mails where some paragraphs have one line break and others have two?
Compare this to a hair in your food: It won’t kill you, but the eater will wonder what goes on in the kitchen.
Put down your thoughts in an organized way and format it in the same way in the email.
Not using bullets
Using paragraphs when you should be using bullets is the biggest blunder you could ever make. Words and sentences are the least effective while communicating your thoughts.
If you have a list of points, don’t write paragraphs. List them with bullets.
If the mail includes a series of steps, make it a numbered list. Why?
- It’s easier to skim a bullet list
- The reader directly go to the points that add value
Not replying to everyone in the thread
Suppose you’re coordinating with X and Y from the client end. You replied to X but did not reply-all. So after a few days Y has to ask either X or you if you replied back.
And X might have to forward all your email threads to Y. X ends up wasting time and curses you for the extra efforts.
Remember – no matter how good you are with your email writing skills, no one gives a f#@k. Never use [email protected] (in xyz company) in the email.
If the email needs to be distributed to many people, individually reach out to them.
Starting a new thread when you should reply to an old one
Don’t jump around with different subject lines when you can carry out the conversation in the same string.
With a new subject there are chances that the context might differ, piling on to the woes of the communicator. The end result? When the reader reads the mails, he has to dig through 5 different threads to get what you mean.
Maintain a systematic approach and the right context while writing a mail. People will thank you for that.