Over 100 billion business-related emails are sent and received every day, according to a report released by The Radicati Group, a technology market research firm. The same report also declares that emails are and will remain the most popular and dominant means of communication in the business world. In fact, it’s expected that the number of business emails will rise to about 132 billion sent and received every day by the end of 2017.
However, despite their popularity, business emails still serve to complicate things from time to time. Miscommunication happens, and it can lead to dire consequences for individuals as well as companies. So, if you fear your work emails might sometimes be sending the wrong message, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Turn them around quickly.
Many organizations have policies about how quickly folks ought to turn around important emails. But, whether your company has a rule like this or not, it’s a good policy to respond to important emails within 24 hours of having received them. If you push it beyond that time frame, you could risk coming off as disorganized at best and untrustworthy at worst.
When you’re not getting together with colleagues in meetings, you have less opportunity to use body language to demonstrate trustworthiness. Instead, you have to show your character and your professionalism in other, more subtle ways. How quickly you respond to emails during business hours sends a message. Be sure it’s the right one.
- Be mindful of spelling and grammar.
This era of text messaging has ushered in some pretty lazy practices as far as spelling and grammar are concerned. In your personal life, especially via text message, it’s all right to leave off the punctuation at the end of a sentence and even to skip capitalizing the word at the beginning, if you so desire. However, the same does not apply to your work emails. You wouldn’t make a mistake on your resume or cover letter, would you? Well, an email deserves the same treatment. Grammatical errors can make you seem careless, uninterested, unreliable, or even uneducated or unprofessional. Be careful.
There are some words that come off as a bit rude, whether they are spoken aloud or written in an email. One example is the word “actually.” When correcting someone, beginning that correction by saying, “actually…” seems condescending and a little nasty: “Actually, that final number is 1.76 not 2.76.” Instead, try just skipping it altogether: “That final number is 1.76 not 2.76.”
- Don’t rush in.
It’s easy to get carried away in the fast-paced business world we work in today. The sheer number of emails, and the pace at which we are expected to get through them, can understandably feel a little overwhelming sometimes. But, don’t let the pressure rush you into making a decision. If you receive an email and you’re not sure how you feel about it or what to say, gather more information before responding, or ask questions in a follow-up email rather than rushing to make a choice. You should respond to the email promptly, but that doesn’t mean you need to make any final decisions until you’re ready.
- Don’t let a brief reply make you seem curt.
We want our clients and coworkers to feel as though we have all the time in the world for them, even when we’re really feeling pretty swamped. So, it’s important not to come off as rushed in our emails. Brief sentences, or sentence fragments, and not signing off are all ways in which we can seem rushed. If you’re responding to an internal email from a coworker, “Yes, sounds good,” is a perfectly proper response in most cases. But, if you’re emailing with someone who is still building their impression of you, take the time to be a little more clear and thorough, while still being efficient.
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