Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

10 Email Mistakes Everyone Should Avoid How To Steal The Spotlight At An Interview Why your Elevator Pitch is important, and how to master it 10 Tips On How To Craft A Perfect Resume What You’ll Learn From Starting Your Own Business

Trending in Work

1 Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart 2 The Lifehack Show Episode 12: Staying On Top of Your Game as an Entrepreneur 3 How to Speak Up at Work Without Being Offensive 4 How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively 5 The Lifehack Show Episode 10: Dealing With Burnt Out Bosses

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 19, 2019

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

Advertising

But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

4. Use Your Phone Wisely

Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

Advertising

One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

6. Use a “To Don’t” List

We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

8. Be Concise

Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

Advertising

Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

  • Making new contacts
  • Talking about yourself at a job interview
  • Meeting people at conferences or parties
  • Phone calls to new clients

9. Ask the Right Questions

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

10. Learn as Much as You Can

You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

Advertising

If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

The Bottom Line

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

More About Working Smart

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next