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Top Five E-mail Do's and Don'ts

by Jim Hartigan
March 28, 2012

E-mail. Remember when getting an e-mail message was so “special” there was an audible announcement of its arrival? “Ding – You’ve Got Mail.” Heck, Tom Hanks even did a movie with the novelty of this new communication tool as its foundation. Love it or hate it, e-mail has permanently changed the way we communicate with others both inside and outside the workplace. And really, who doesn’t find 100-plus new messages a day a change for the good? Especially those notices communicating my winning a lottery in another country!

When reading the plethora of e-mails we all receive, do you ever find yourself scratching your head in confusion? While e-mail has become one of the most popular means of communicating with others, some common bad e-mail habits have crept into our daily lives as well. These bad habits often distort or confound the message being sent. To help you prevent your audience from scratching their heads at your e-mails, we submit the following Top Five E-mail Do’s and Don’ts.
  1. To E-mail or Not to E-mail, that is the question. Rule #1: Ensure e-mail is the best vehicle for your communications. In some cases, picking up the phone or having a face-to-face conversation may be better than e-mail. E-mailing someone does not guarantee an immediate response, as they may choose to respond later after having a chance to think about your message. If you call, you are able to get a response faster and streamline a conversation that could potentially take several e-mail exchanges.
  2. Beat around the bush at your own peril. Rule #2: Be direct. Get to the point at the beginning of your message. Ask questions or provide answers within the first couple of sentences. This ensures you won’t lose the reader’s attention or confuse or annoy him or her with unnecessary information. Give your explanations and details later in your message, AFTER the recipient knows the purpose of your e-mail.
  3. OK, so now what do I do? Rule #3: State who should respond and when. If you send an e-mail to more than one person, be clear on who is responsible for what. A group e-mail can cause confusion, leading the recipients to assume that someone else will take care of your request. Also, if you need a response by a certain time, state that in your e-mail. Otherwise, your request may get pushed down on their to-do list.
  4. Less is more. Rule #4: Keep your e-mails to one topic. By including more than one topic, you run the risk of something being overlooked or ignored.
  5. As your elementary teacher said, “Spelling Counts.” Rule #5: Last, but certainly not least, remember the rules of punctuation and grammar. In today’s digital world, we are using shortcuts everywhere, from text messaging to the spoken word. However, by ignoring basic grammar and punctuation rules, your message may be misunderstood and it may take more time for the recipient to decode your message. An e-mail is NOT a text message—especially in the business realm. Use complete sentences and take the time to proofread your e-mail before pressing ‘send.’
By following these simple rules, your e-mail communications will be more effective for both you and your readers. For more helpful tips on writing or even receiving e-mails, read this article.

Orgwide can help improve your e-mail communications—just call us or send us an e-mail to learn more. Until next time, remember to take care of the customer, take care of each other, and take care of yourself.

About the Author:

Jim Hartigan, Chief Business Development Officer and Partner joined OrgWide Services, a Training/e-Learning, Communications, Surveys and Consulting firm in April 2010 after nearly 30 years experience in the hospitality industry, including the last 18 as a senior executive with Hilton Worldwide. Jim’s last position was that of Senior Vice President – Global Brand Services where he provided strategic leadership and business development and support to the $22B enterprise of 10 brands and more than 3,400 hotels in 80 countries around the world. His team was responsible for ensuring excellence in system product quality, customer satisfaction, market research, brand management, media planning, and sustainability.

Jim Hartigan
Chief Business Development Officer & Partner
OrgWide Services
71 Peyton Parkway, Suite 100
Collierville, TN 38017
office: 901.850.8190  Ext. 230
mobile: 901.628.6586

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