Over at CBS MoneyWatch, Dave Johnson offers these great tips in his post “What makes emails ineffective, and even insulting”:
- Keep emails short. Johnson recommends following the BLUF strategy: Put the Bottom Line Up Front. In the first couple of sentences, answer any questions thoroughly, ask the question you need answered, or briefly state what the email is about. Then provide only essential details, preferably in a bulleted list. But …
- Don’t be terse. Whipping off one- or two-word emails can come across as rude and frustrating, especially if you don’t fully answer a person’s question or offer a well-rounded response. You want to be succinct but you also want to ensure that you are clear. Answer in full sentences and make sure that your replies make sense.
- Take the emotion out of your emails. Before you hit “Send,” count to 10 and re-read your email eliminating any words that might trigger an emotional reaction. Johnson uses the example “Your plan is painfully vague,” noting that painfully can anger the author of the plan. In that example, if you delete the adverb painfully, the criticism is easier to handle.
Email is one of the most common (if not the top) formats we use to communicate at work. What is the biggest email communication problem you face at work?
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