Do make sure email is the best way of responding.
You’re never guaranteed an immediate reply with email, and email certainly is not as personal as a phone call. Sometimes it is better to speak to someone directly. It’s also quite hard to convey complex and/or visual material through words.
If you want to make an impact on someone, sometimes using good old fashioned post can be better, for example a hand written thank you note goes further than an email. It shows you took time to write it and post it. Wouldn’t that feel more special to you than 2 min email sent to say Thanks?
Ask your question or provide your answer right at the start of the email, right after the opening greeting. If you waffle on you’ll lose the recipient’s attention and make it harder for them to reply usefully.
Do actually ask the question!
Make sure you actually phrase questions as questions to ensure the recipient knows that you’re expecting an answer.
Don’t be ambiguous.
If you’re going to send an email to a group of people including instructions, make it clear which person needs to complete each task. Otherwise the recipients will assume everyone else was supposed to complete the task!
Do give timeframes.
If you need a response by the end of the day or Monday, say so! Because email is quite impersonal it can be easy to ignore. You can also note deadlines in the subject line.
Don’t assume the recipient knows what you’re talking about.
People don’t always check their email regularly. Provide a bit of context in your email so the recipient knows what it refers to. Context also makes it easier when reviewing past emails days or weeks later.
Do use good spelling and grammar!
Txt spk iz 4 txt msgs ONLY! It doesn’t make you look cool. Text speak makes your emails harder to read, and therefore more likely to be ignored. Use capital letters and paragraphing just like you would in any other document. This is particularly important when communicating with customers as sloppy spelling, grammar and punctuation makes you look unprofessional.
Don’t mix unrelated queries or subjects in one email.
Confusing emails with lots of unrelated points mean it’s quite likely some of them will get overlooked. One topic per message is the way forward.
Do provide summaries.
If you want to send a message and all its replies to someone to keep them informed, it’s only polite to provide a quick summary of the message thread and why they need to know. It can be quite hard for the other persons to figure out what’s going on from a thread of messages and it will save them a lot of time.
Don’t assume the sender is being rude.
Emails are impersonal and most people don’t realise how they might sound to their recipients. Misplaced attempts at humour and sarcasm, emails dashed off in a hurry and the fact that most people just aren’t great writer mean that some emails come across as just plain rude. It’s probably unintentional, and unless the sender actually says that they are angry with you in the message, respond with usual professional good grace.
Do be the better person.
If the other person is being rude to you in an email, don’t send a nasty one back. You’ll only get into a cycle of horrid emails, and it’s easy to do because you’re not face to face with the other person. Be the better person and give them a call to try and resolve the issue.
Don’t assume anything.
If any thing in an email doesn’t make sense, ask for clarification. If you need clarification fast, don’t just reply to the email, give them a call!