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How To Make Sure Busy People Read Your Email

How To Make Sure Busy People Read Your Email

Email has long since become the preferred type of communication in offices. Email allows for convenience, simplicity and a record of conversations for clarity. However, an email is much easier to ignore, or forget about, than in-person communication. To ensure the busy people in your life read your email, keep your messages simple and direct. Ultimately, the key to making sure others read your email is respecting your reader’s time, and constructing a clear message.

Subject Line

To make sure busy people read your email, the most crucial step is a functional subject line. Keep your subject line direct, yet descriptive. A generalized subject line makes your email easy to miss. Make your subject line specific to the type of attachment or conversation you are discussing. This way, not only will the receiver know exactly why they need to read your email, your email will also be easier to search later on. For example, try “Time Sensitive Third Quarter Forms”, as opposed to general terms, like “Documents”.

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Keep it Simple

Keeping your message short and simple is another crucial way to ensure busy associates read your email. Remember: a short email is an accessible email. Pleasantries are nice for catching up with friends, but will convolute your message in professional settings. Write about as few topics as possible to ensure your email is direct, and easy to understand.

Keep it Short

When conveying important information, you don’t want your reader getting lost. Additionally, large blocks of text are intimidating to readers. A message consisting of large paragraphs is far less readable then a message with short paragraphs. Keep your message to two or three blocks of text, ideally with three sentences or less in each. This helps keep the focus of your message to the subject at at hand, which is more respectful of your reader’s time.

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Section Your Message

Similar to keeping your message short, divide your message into sections. Each block of text should address only one topic. This will keep your message focused and make it easier to read your email. For example, when responding to an associates design for your company, the first sentence or two should summarize you reaction. Then start a new paragraph, asking for any revisions in one sentence or two. Then wrap up your email with a professional sign off. While this approach may seem short for a casual conversation, professional conversations should always take as little time as possible from your reader.

Stylize Sparingly

Fancy backgrounds and multiple logos might make your email look impressive on your machine, but remember that not everyone has rich HTML elements enabled. Additionally, increasing numbers of us access email on mobile devices, where large image files take more time to load. Stick to basic formatting in place of complicated image layouts. This way, your email will look uniform across devices.

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Enable Alternate Ways to Read Your Email

When your message requires photos heavy formatting, remember that the internet is now flooded with different email hosts. Not all hosts work the same, or involve the same features. To ensure recipients read your email, keep in mind the benefits of emailing a plain text version of your message with a link to a web based version. Plain text messages load fastest on mobile browsers, and eliminate any formatting issues on different platforms. A plain text message with a link to a web based version, as opposed to a message with several images, is also less likely to be caught in a spam filter.

Make Your Expectations Clear

Your busy associate just read your email, now what? The last step in an effective email is making sure your reader understands what they need to do now. If you need a response by a certain time, for example, rely on rules two and three: simplicity and sections. Start a new paragraph, then state your expectations in a sentence or two. For example, instructions like “Please send these files by Tuesday at 3:00” is easy to miss at the end of a paragraph. Isolate instructions for your reader at the end of your email, in a separate paragraph, to ensure nothing is missed.

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Alicia Prince

A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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