Advertising
Advertising

Do Your Emails Suck? How to Write Emails That Get Results

Do Your Emails Suck? How to Write Emails That Get Results
class="bigphoto">
Do Your Emails Suck?

    Feel like a slave to your inbox? Improve your writing and you’ll save plenty of time by eliminating miscommunications and the need for follow-up. Email management productivity tips can only do so much if you don’t know how to write an effective email. That doesn’t mean you have to strive for lyrical prose in every message (though I always welcome lyrical prose in my inbox). The key is to communicate clearly and effectively so that recipients know exactly what they need to do in response and you can avoid endless back-and-forth and time-consuming misunderstandings. The following are some basic guidelines for writing more effective emails:

    • Get to the Point: Every email that you write should have a clear purpose. For example, your purpose may be to deliver key information, to request a follow-up action, or to persuade someone to your point of view. In a well-written email, the purpose is stated early (in the first line of the email if possible) and followed by whatever supporting points that the reader is likely to need. Don’t burden your reader with paragraphs full of non-essential details. Don’t make him try to figure out what it is that you want. If you fail to state your purpose clearly or write long, meandering intros before getting to the point, your email is far more likely to get ignored or filed away for “later” and never looked at again. That means you’ll soon be writing another email.
    • It’s Not About You: Always keep your reader’s point of view in mind. Who is your audience? What do they care about in relation to this message? What details do they need to act on the email? Don’t assume that everybody’s priorities are the same as yours or that everyone has your frame of reference. To get the response you want, communicate what’s in it for the reader and make it as easy as possible to respond.
    • Write a Good Subject Line: Your recipients get a lot of email, including plenty of junk from both spammers and inconsiderate colleagues. Your email will likely be competing for attention in a very busy inbox. Therefore, you will always get a faster response if you take a moment to craft a clear and specific subject line that communicates why your message is important. Think about your subject line as a headline – it should make your recipient want to read more. For example, the subject line “Forms” is far less likely to get a speedy response than “Insurance Forms Due Monday.” And remember, if you’re forwarding or replying to a previous email, it may be worthwhile to change the subject line if you are introducing a new topic or purpose.
    • Don’t Take That Tone with Me! Getting your tone right in an email can be tricky. What you see as direct can be interpreted as insulting. What you consider enthusiasm can be read as pushiness. Nobody is eager to respond to an email with an attitude problem. You may even inadvertently set off a hissy fit, snit, or passive aggressive pout. None of these are conducive to productivity. Read over your email before you press send and think about how it will read. Are there any phrasings that could be misinterpreted? Would a “please” or “thank you” hurt? Of course, there are times when you have to deliver bad news or negative feedback and you can’t avoid a little bit of tone. In those situations, you’re probably better off scheduling a face-to-face meeting or phone call to minimize misunderstandings and give everyone a chance to clear the air.
    • Write Like a Grown-up – When you’re writing a professional email, spelling and grammar really do count. Save your uncapitalized, run-on sentences and your excessive LOLs and !!!s for the American Idol message board. If you want your email to be taken seriously, take a little time to proofread for embarrassing errors. And the same rules apply when you’re emailing from your PDA. People may cut you a little extra slack if they know you’re composing on a tiny keyboard at a stoplight, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to write like a grade schooler.
    • Don’t CC the Entire Free World: Think about who REALLY needs to see the message and leave everybody else out of it. Once you get a reputation for reckless CC’ing, your messages are likely to go to the bottom of the priority list.

    More by this author

    How to Prepare for a Layoff Do Your Emails Suck? How to Write Emails That Get Results

    Trending in Communication

    1 50 Unique and Really Fun Date Ideas for Couples 2 Take Back Your Personal Power (Part 1) 3 Take Back Your Personal Power (Part 2) 4 When You Start to Let Go of Your Past, These 10 Things Will Happen 5 How to Learn to Let Go of What You Can’t Control

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on January 24, 2021

    How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

    How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

    Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

    For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

    But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

    It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

    And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

    The Importance of Saying No

    When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

    In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

    Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

    Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

    Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

    “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

    When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

    How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

    It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

    From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

    We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

    And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

    Advertising

    At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

    The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

    How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

    Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

    But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

    3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

    1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

    If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

    2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

    When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

    Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

    3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

    When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

    6 Ways to Start Saying No

    Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

    Advertising

    1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

    One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

    Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

    2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

    Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

    Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

    3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

    Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

    Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

    You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

    4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

    Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

    Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

    5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

    When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

    Advertising

    How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

      Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

      Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

      6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

      If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

      Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

      Final Thoughts

      Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

      Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

      Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

      More Tips on How to Say No

      Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
      [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
      [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

      Read Next