Emails – The Good, Bad and You!

The good and bad email
Emails cause perception

We all write emails. How many of us think about the quality of emails that we write. An email is typically used to communicate with people you are you physically around with (unless you are sharing a document, and using email – which by the way, is a not the right way to do – You should be using a document management system).

Given that the other person cannot see and feel you, the contents of your email cause a perception about you in the mind of the person who receives it.

What are the ways to write emails to make yourself more presentable and show you in good light. I have captured below some simple ways (not a complete list, nor the only way to achieve the said goal).

  1. Write emails with awareness. Emails are not to be taken lightly. Being an indirect (not face-face) mode, there are a lot of chances to be misunderstood. So, do not type off emails in a hurry, spend a few minutes making sure that the email will be informative, interesting and will be understood the way you want it to be understood. Nowadays, emails are considered legal proof by courts. So, all the more reason to be courteous and spend time framing the email.
  2. Add a ‘++++’ to the recipient list – This will prevent accidental sending of emails0020when you are half way through. The email will not be sent (in most email clients) because this is an invalid email id. This way, you have to remove the ‘++++’ after making sure that the email has been correctly framed. How many times have you hit the send button without meaning to? My toddler daughter has done that for me a couple of times. ’++++’ is a boon for us, provided by the digital demi-gods!
  3. Create a professional signature – This will save you a lot of time, while making you look really professional. This will also act as miniature advertising for your organization. A good email signature should be short, and contain at least the below information.
    1. Sign Off Message (Regards, Cheers, Thanking you, etc.,) that you commonly use as the standard Sign Off message
    2. Your Name
    3. Your company name
    4. At least one (preferably all) contact information of: Phone/Cell number, email address and website URL

Avoid using images in the signature, as this will not be displayed by some email clients, ruining the signature. Oh, and don’t forget to set the signature as the default, automatic signature, so that you don’t have to paste it into every email – thus saving you lots of time, and embarrassing mistakes!

  1. Greeting: Start off wishing the recipient appropriately. You good use a greeting and the name. For example: Hi George. Be careful of cultural implications. If you are writing to ‘George Banks’ for the first time or he is in a highly respectable position, it is more polite to use Mr. (or Ms.), and the last name instead of the first name. In this case, you would say: Hi Mr. Banks

You might also want to wish ‘Good Morning’ – but do not forget timezone differences. If the recipient is in a different timezone, you should wish him according to the time of the day he would see the email in. If its evening for him, wish him Good Evening instead (even though its morning for you)

  1. Content: Keep the Content crisp and short. Ideally, every business email should only contain three paragraphs – but this is only a guideline – treat it as such.
    1. Content – Why are you writing this email
    2. Message – What message do you want to convey
    3. Actionable – What do you expect the recipient to do after seeing this email

For example, a sample email to Mr. George Banks would be:

Hi Mr. Banks,

We understand that you are in need of a Mercedes C Class Sedan.

We can help you with your need, and we offer unmatched services in your choice and post-sale process. We would love to visit you so that you can take a look at the model of your choice (of course we will bring it to a place of your choice at your preferred time).

You could reply to this email suggesting a time and place or simply call me at +91 34567 89012 to setup a Test Drive.

Assuring you of our best services,

Your Name and Signature

As an exercise, identify the context, message and actionable in the above email

  1. Spell-Check Spell-Check Spell-Check: I can never over-emphasize this activity. This is a standard feature in most email-clients, but its surprising how few people actually make use of this.

You might choose to accept or ignore the suggestion – But make sure you run through every work and make a conscious decision.

Some email clients also point out grammatical errors. Please make sure you correct these too.

  1. Recipients: Make sure that you have all the intended people in the to/cc list. The to list should contain only email ids of people who will work on the actionables. The rest of the email ids should be put in the cc (which is intended only for information). So do not put an email id in the cc, if you are expecting an action from that person, and vice-versa.

Sometimes, you might want to add a bcc – which is a blind carbon copy – Please make sure of the implications of using bcc. Some obvious implications are:

  • The recipients will not see whom the mail has been bcc’ed to
  • A Reply All will leave the bcc’ed emails out
  • More importantly, a bcc’ed person, might reply all causing embarrassment
  1. Remove the ‘++++’ and hit Send!

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