Yesterday’s blog post discussed the first 8 of 16 guidelines to remind you of how you can be an effective email communicator, while maintaining professionalism at all times. These last few guidelines deal primarily with email responses and the tone of your writing:
9. When responding to an email, answer each and every point requested in the email. Few things are more annoying than to have someone respond to only one or two of the several questions that were asked, and having to resend a request for the remaining responses.
10. When responding to an email that is harsh or critical or demanding of you, take a deep breath and respond professionally. Do not respond in kind.
11. Know your audience. For example, it’s fine to have a sense of humor in your writing; but put yourself in the chair of the reader, or those to whom the reader may forward your email. Will they understand your humor as you intended, or could it be misconstrued.
12. When forwarding an email, read all the way to the bottom of that email. Delete emails in the chain that are no longer relevant to what you are now responding. (However, do not delete emails in the chain that would change the meaning of the entire chain.) Feel free to remove references in the chain that are not relevant, and that may reflect poorly on someone in the email chain. Always stay on point.
Referencing points 10 and 11 above, by always maintaining professionalism in emails and email responses, they will not reflect negatively on you should they be inadvertently forwarded.
13. Never, ever, ever, not ever, never hit “Reply All”. Unless the email specifically requires all respondents to reply, respond only to the sender. The knee-jerk requirement to hit “Reply All” is another one of those annoying email habits that you should avoid.
14. If an email thread goes back and forth more than three or four times, then you are clearly not communicating. Or, more specifically, you are not communicating clearly. Push back the keyboard, pick up the telephone, and have a conversation.
Similarly, unless a written response is required, if the person is in close proximity, push back the keyboard, get out of your chair, and go talk to that person. I do this as a matter of course because, even though writing an email may be quicker, face-to-face communication is much more preferable.
15. Email is not the avenue for praise or discipline. Praise is best done in a public forum, discipline only in private. Confidential information does not belong in email.
16. Before hitting “Send”, proofread your entire email. Put yourself in the reader’s chair. Make any clarifying corrections that are needed for better understanding. If your email is response to another email, re-read the requesting email. Hit “Send” only when you are sure that you have answered it completely and correctly. Yes, this takes a few extra minutes initially, but can save hours of explanation if the wrong meaning is conveyed.
Always maintain your professionalism – especially when using email. Remember: you are what you write.
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