I spend a lot of time reading email messages, and I bet you do too. It seems we’re in good company—the average person receives about 75 work-related emails daily.
We all know the basics of good email communication—but when you’re up to your eyeballs in unread messages, it can be tempting to break some of the rules.
Below are some of the more commonly ignored email best practices. Have you seen any of these perpetrators in your inbox lately?
The Usual Suspects
- Notorious for typos and accidental autocorrects
- Frequently sends follow-up messages that say “sorry—sent to the wrong Steve”
- Known for sending long, single-paragraph messages, often dictated into his phone and lacking any kind of punctuation
- Sometimes uses a full sentence—or two—as a subject line
- Infamous for stretching the equivalent of a 5-minute conversation into one or more days’ worth of emails
Skip A. Bit
- Best known for only responding to part of an email—and usually not the most critical parts
- Often sends multiple replies to a single email
- Little is known about this individual, as he/she doesn’t use an email signature
Righting the Wrongs
These digital desperados are not beyond redemption. If you encounter them, feel free to point them to these tips to begin their rehabilitation:
- Always proofread. Not every email needs to be letter perfect, but some typos can completely change the tone of your message (for example, some misspellings of definitely autocorrect to defiantly). It’s also a good idea to double-check the recipient’s address before you hit send to ensure that it’s correctly typed (and that it’s actually the person you meant to send to).
- If you’re typing more than a couple of sentences, be sure to break your email down into paragraphs—and make use of bullet points whenever possible to get your message across clearly.
- Know when an email should be a phone call. While it’s often important to have a “paper trail” of information, it sometimes makes more sense in the long run to just pick up the phone.
- When replying to an email, ensure you’re responding to everything being asked (even if the response is “I’ll have to get back to you on that”). It will cut down on the back-and-forth, and create a more concise record of your communication.
- Include your email signature in all emails—not just those you initiate. Your message could get forwarded to somebody who needs to contact you, and your signature gives them the info they need in order to reach out. Most email platforms make it easy to set up a default signature along with rules for including it in new messages, replies and forwards.