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10 Email Mistakes Everyone Should Avoid

10 Email Mistakes Everyone Should Avoid

The way in which Email is used nowadays has changed drastically with the introduction of smartphones and tablets. Many people have moved away from the formality of letter-writing styles in Email to more conversational Instant Messaging uses. However, especially within a Work Environment, it is necessary to make sure you fulfil a certain criteria in order to maintain professionalism. Here are some of the Email mistakes that people make often to really consider.

1. Use greetings and closings.

Too often we are caught off-guard with an Email, and try to respond as quickly as possible by just sending back the information they’ve asked for. However, common courtesy still applies to Email! Make sure you address the person correctly, be it ‘Dear Mr. Miles’ or ‘Hey John,’ —depending on whether it is a colleague, someone you met on a training course, or a client—and make sure you tail off the Email correctly, too. Not only does this help people decipher where the Email starts and stops (especially if you’re Email client shows previous conversations), but it also keeps a little formality and professionalism associated to your persona. People are likely to take you more seriously.

However, especially with closings, you can be a little less formal with these and actually use them as part of the conversation. Consider the following: ‘Thanks for passing on that Information,’ ‘Good luck in your endeavours,’ or ‘Look forward to seeing you next Tuesday.’ All of these don’t necessarily sound as formal as ‘Yours Sincerely,’ or ‘Yours Faithfully,’ but still have the closing appeal of a letter, and offer some form of conclusion to the message you have been writing.

2. Subject is key.

The Subject of an Email is often overlooked, yet it can have such an impact on the delivery of the rest of the message. It is the first thing a person sees regarding your communication, and thus can be used to such a great benefit. You can outline the basic contents of the message, perhaps add a sense of urgency (a deadline to respond), or simply mention that it doesn’t necessarily need to be replied to.

You can guide the way in which you want the recipient to use the email, and by giving them an overall breakdown of the Email can make the contents a little easier to digest. Also, if you have previous conversations, or it is a group email, it can become very confusing if topics of conversation change but the subject line does not: an Email regarding Sales labelled as Human Resources could become very confusing.

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3. The opening paragraph outlines the content.

In your opening paragraph of an Email, always outline the content of the rest of the Email (especially if it’s a long one). This acts as a quick introduction and helps the reader guide through the rest of the content. It also quickly outlines the important information you want the reader to take from the Email. For example, you may open with:

Hey Fred,

I’m just sending you an Email to give you an update of our takings from Q1, and wanted your opinion on the findings.

On the whole, we managed to take…

If this Email was intended to just give information, Fred may not have taken a more critical approach to the figures. However, in asking for his feedback and opinion prior to giving the content, he is likely to read the information more critically and attempt to absorb more of the information. The easiest guide to the opening paragraph would be: Greeting – Outline Content – Desired Outcome. This not only helps the reader, but it helps you plan the content of the Email you are writing, too—so, all in all, is a bit of a win-win.

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4. Play to your audience.

This is very similar to the Tip 1, but more regarding the context of an Email. One of the biggest Email mistakes I’ve seen—especially with regards to my University studies—has been when people Email their professors in the following manner:

Hey John,

Can u send me the feedbaxk?

Thx Rick

Now, although University is probably not a great example due to the informality of many nowadays, there is still a line between informality and disrespect. Depending on who you are talking to, it is necessary to make sure you are communicating in an appropriate manner. If it’s a colleague you get on well with, by all means adapt a more informal stance but remember that if your communications are professional, keep them in a professional manner. This can lead to difficulties in working relationships when the confines of the working environment and the friendship become blurred.

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5. Recognise when Email is and isn’t right.

Sometimes a good old face-to-face chat is really what’s needed. So many times I have seen in the industry people using Email to send negative feedback, or even to tell someone of their redundancy—this just does not sit right within my ethics. If you need to deliver bad news, constructive feedback, or are looking to connect with colleagues and networks, then an email is not the right way to do this. If not face-to-face, maybe a quick phone call, or a handwritten memo. There are different ways to deliver different messages, so maybe experiment until you find one you find works and are comfortable with.

6. Know when to say LOL (and other chat language).

This is never right, in my personal opinion. I’ve always been a firm believer in the full use of the English language, and that abbreviations are just a lazy-man’s way of writing. The only time chat language is somewhat acceptable is via SMS. An Email is a formal form of communication, much like a letter, and thus always make sure you use correct language, and spell-check before you send. Not only that, but some people may not be aware of certain abbreviations, or may find it difficult to understand chat language. To make sure your communication is consistent and comprehendible, make sure you use correct grammar and spelling.

7. Double-check before you send!

Everyone can admit that at some point they’ve sent an Email to the wrong person by mistake, and waited anxiously for the response. Always check you’re sending it to the right person, that you’ve spell-checked, and that your subject is correct! So many times people send Emails with ambiguous subjects, or completely irrelevant people CC’d into an Email. Always check—and if you’ve noticed a mistake just as you’ve clicked send, check out the tip at the end of this post if you use Google Mail (it might save you in future!)

8. CC/BCC?

There are times when people need to be added to Emails in order to keep them up-to-date, or simply just for continuity. However, always think before you CC (Carbon-Copy) someone into an Email. Is the recipient likely to feel nervous of seeing someone else being sent the same Email? Most of the time if an Email is directed at a sole person, it can seem somewhat unprofessional to CC someone into the Email rather than using BCC (Blind Carbon-Copy). A great example would be in sending out a press release to your various contacts, you don’t necessarily want other firms to know that you’ve been sending the same information to them, and most of all to retain professionalism you should not be sharing these email addresses with competitors. Always think before you send—what impact will this have on the recipients of the email?

9. Reply-One? Reply-All!

Did you mean to send the whole department that Email? This is such a big blunder regarding group mails. Make sure you only hit Reply All if all need to hear about it. If it’s just regarding a catch-up on your holiday request, I don’t think everyone really needs to get involved. Always review who really needs to receive the Email in any case. The only times the whole department or a large group of people really need to receive an email are: any form of internal change which affects everyone, updates regarding performance or financial situations, company-wide announcements, or generalised feedback to departments. Plus this style of Email, if used constantly, can begin to make a team feel detached from the other members of the organisation and can actually decrease morale.

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10. I’M URGENT CAUSE I’M CAPITALS

Never, ever (I mean it) use Caps-Lock in a professional Email. No matter how urgent the Email is, the use of Capitals is often a highly expressive form of communication, detracting from the professionalism of a work Email. Plus, in regard to your own image, it comes across as somewhat childish in manner, and can have an impact on your own reputation.

Top Tip: Cancel Sending Emails in Google Mail

If, by unlucky circumstances, you do end up sending an Email with some incorrect information or the wrong person copied in, within Google Mail you can actually cancel an email up to 30 seconds after you clicked send. To do so, you need to go into Google Labs and enable the Undo Send button. And while you’re at it, why not check out the other features of Google Labs that you might find useful.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via ununsplash.imgix.net

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Last Updated on October 28, 2020

The Crucial Letter Your SMART Goal Is Missing

The Crucial Letter Your SMART Goal Is Missing

SMART goals are a simple, logical way to organize your goals as you set them throughout life. Not only does this technique help you identify reachable goals, but it helps break down goals into smaller and more manageable pieces.

However, there is one crucial element (or letter) that is missing from this acronym. This missing letter can potentially make it harder for you to reach your goal – no matter how well you have broken down your goal into different pieces and action steps. However, once you understand this missing piece, you’ll be able to use it to move forward with your goals.

What Are Smart Goals?

If you are not familiar with the SMART goal setting technique and what the acronym means, here is a brief rundown with a simple example:

  • S = Specific — Your goal has to be specific enough (“I want to lose 4 inches off my waist”).
  • M = Measurable — You can measure your waistline every week to keep track of your progress.
  • A = Achievable — Do you think that you can do this? Or are you going too far by getting rid of yet another 4 inches? Or should you expand the goal to 5 inches; is that within reach?
  • R = Realistic — Is your lifestyle stable enough that you can commit to this goal?  Are you mentally prepared to do this? Do you have the resources you need for this goal?
  • T = Time-framed — You could want to achieve this goal within a week or within six months, but it should have a specific time frame.

As you can see, when you break down your goals like this, they become much more manageable and concrete than just saying “I want to to be slimmer.”

All fine and well, except that there is a crucial letter missing in this package – another letter “A.”

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The Missing Letter

The other letter “A” stands for accountability, and this is a great way to make sure that your defined plan is actually executed and is not left just on the talking or planning level. Even if you have crafted a masterful plan by using the SMART goal technique, it becomes useless if you don’t actually execute it. To make sure you start the execution phase, you want to throw some accountability into the mix.

By having some external pressure on your back (in the form of accountability), you are more likely to take action on your goal steps than if you just keep the plan to yourself. Accountability is based on the fact that you want to stand behind your words and save face. When you announce your goal to the world, you realize that the world is now watching you, and you don’t want to let the world down.

Accountability is also about facing the expectations of others. If you announce a goal or a task in public, other people are expecting you will achieve the tasks and goals you have laid out for yourself.

Watch this video and find out how by having dependable accountability, you can reach your goal more efficiently:

Ways to Implement the Letter “A” in Your Goal

There are plenty of ways you can go about creating accountability. Choose which one will work to motivate you the most.

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1. Keep It to Yourself

I was a bit hesitant to include this, since in this scenario you are not telling others about your plans or tasks. However, for some people this might work since your conscience is your accountability partner in this situation. And you don’t want to let your conscience down.

2. Announce It to Other People

Your people could be your colleagues at work, your local golf club buddies, the subscribers and readers of your blog, or your Twitter followers. I would say that accountability is more effective when dealing with “offline people.” Being accountable face-to-face to someone is very effective.

I’m in no way underestimating the power of “online people” either. If you are trying to form solid relationships with others online, you want to keep your word – even if you don’t necessarily meet the people in the same sense as in the offline world.

3. Find an Accountability Partner

A more intimate way of being accountable is to find an accountability partner. This could be a friend or spouse, but it needs to be someone you feel comfortable reporting to. When this route is chosen, you might decide to call your partner on a frequent basis to tell them how well you are progressing on the goal.

4. Get on Stickk.com

If none of the above ways work for you, it’s time to put Stickk into play.

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Stickk.com is a website where you can announce your goal (“Commitment Contract”), and to make you even more committed to reaching that goal, there is money at stake. Money is not mandatory to get set up with Stickk, but knowing that you will lose a certain amount of money if you don’t reach your goal can give you an extra push to get stuff done.

5. Join Mastermind Groups

A mastermind group is a group of like-minded people gathering on a frequent basis (online or offline), trying to push each other closer to their goals. This type of accountability is very common in the business world. When you are in a mastermind group and you have set the objectives you want to achieve by the next meeting, you want to get stuff done and fulfill other’s expectations.

Mastermind groups are a great way to improve your productivity and reach your goals with the help of others.

6. Hire a Coach

If you really want to get personal attention for your goals, then hiring a personal coach may be the best way to stay accountable.

Not only are you accountable to your coach, but you also have to pay for his/her attention. This makes the coach option even more effective. You want to make sure you do everything you can to get the assignments done before the deadline you two have set. So, there is a money factor to keep you accountable as well. Since you want to quickly move forward, this option is a very effective for staying accountable with your SMART goals.

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The Bottom Line

Next time, set your goal using “SMARTA,” instead. Add that letter “A” to the SMART goal setting technique:

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-framed, Accountable.

The accountability factor of reaching your goals may be just the thing you need to make them a reality.

More Tips on SMART Goals

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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