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Effective Email Tips

Effective Email Tips

Stakeholders (Audience and related people)? Subject? Importance? Sender & Recipient Internet Connections? Are all issues that you have to think of while sending and email. If you wish to send email messages in a more effective manner following the broad email etiquette standards, then DO continue reading.

In this article, we will try to touch upon the various important issues pertaining to email etiquettes and protocols:

Inbox related Tips
Organize your Mail – use filters (per person / company / subject / Recipient Status – To, Cc or BCc) to organize your inbox and outbox. Software that may help you do so include Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express. This way you’ll be able to optimize on your email receipt, reading and – in turn – responding as you have everything your mails sorted according to the priorities you set.

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Email Writing & Sending Tips
Who are the Stakeholders? – and what are their significance with regard to your e-mail’s subject? If you’re writing an email at work to report an incident or to follow up on a particular project deadline/ due date, then you’ll probably have the following set up:
To: Your actual main recipient (to whom this email is a must read)
Cc: (send a Carbon copy) of the email to your interested parties.
There are 2 famous perceptions for who to place in the Cc recipient section of your email message.
One view point is to have your direct manager, and probably your recipient’s direct manager. This copy is usually kept for reference and managers don’t usually refer to them or read them unless they have extra time OR a problem concerning this email has risen.
The opposing view point (applied in some other places around the world) is to place the people who are in the FYI (For your information) category in the Cc section. These people need to know the information to perform the work better, but they need not (necessarily) respond to the email. Advocates of this view point do not Cc their managers.
BCc: (send a Blind Carbon copy) of the email to some other party that you think needs to know about the subject, without letting other parties (i.e. the To and Cc recipients) know about this person’s knowledge.

Recipient’s Connection: if you go ahead and type a long email with attachments and pictures and send it to someone whose Internet connection is a slow dial up, then he/she might as well post pone reading it – if at all!

Recipient’s State:
Work Schedule – Busy? Keeping an email short and to the point is essential as he/she might have hundreds of other emails to read.

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Accepts HTML? You might as well check with your recipient prior to sending him/her emails with HTML content as most people usually switch this option off to reduce the size of their email messages.

Jargon: Try to avoid abbreviations and field-specific jargon so that your recipient may understand you. More often than not, engineers – for example – tend to use their abbreviations while addressing even their top management – who may have forgotten the meaning of such technical lingo.

According to Nancy Flynn and Tom Flynn: ‘By requiring employees to use appropriate, businesslike language in all electronic communications, employers can limit their liability risks and improve the overall effectiveness of the organization’s e-mail and Internet copy in the process’

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Importance: Classifying your email in terms of Importance, Urgency and Confidentiality also adds a taste of understanding for the recipient. You may even make it obvious for the recipient to act upon by clearly identifying the e-mail’s properties in a table at the top of your contents.

Try to make it easier for your recipient to understand the purpose of the email. You may even define your email messages as “Requiring action”, “FYI – For Your Information”, “Requires Reply”, “Time sensitive”, or other action, time, or sensitivity related key words right at the beginning.

Moreover, spam controller programs often eliminate or rule as “Junk” email messages without subjects or with ambiguous meaning.

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Caps – Never use capital letters while typing and email message to anyone. For starters, caps are considered impolite and resemble shouting in speech (Ellen Dowling).

Genre of Topic – Avoid mixing subjects in your email. Unless otherwise needed by your superior or work culture, mixing subjects in one email message might confuse your readers. At least, don’t mix the type of message; if you’re discussing work then stay focused on work topics without straying to personal issues.

Proof read – Always proof read your email prior to sending it. It may take you a minute, and it may take you 10, but after all you’ll be sure that the message you sent is free of grammatical, vocabulary and appropriate usage errors.

Subject Line – what you write in the subject line is almost as important as the email itself. In most cases, what your subject line is determines whether or not the recipient will read your email, or even when he/she shall read it.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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