Click Here to view published blog post in the Cincinnati Business Courier entitled, "What Do I Do When My Boss Hates My Emails?"
During my annual review, I received bad marks for written communication. My boss cited the problem specifically being my email correspondence. Any advice?
The power of email is potent. We can communicate globally across time zones just as quickly as we communicate with someone in the same room. We can reach out and connect with someone we haven’t seen in years. Alas, we can also offend with a rushed, curt response or bore to tears typing a virtual version of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.”
With all this power, however, comes responsibility. Every email you send reflects your professionalism, warmth, intentions, intellect, and attitude...or lack thereof. Poorly constructed emails can make indelible impressions that can’t be erased. By their nature, emails are a “cold” medium so caution must be exercised to warm up your virtual outreach but still express yourself appropriately. Try these strategies for starters:
Subject Line - Include a clear subject line that summarizes your purpose. Most readers will decide whether to open your email based purely on the subject line. For example, “Signature Required”, “Meeting Date Changed” or “Action Required” are direct subject lines that grab attention.
Salutations – In workplace emails, use formal salutations and avoid the colloquial and crass expressions, “Hey” or “What’s Up?” Never skip the salutations and launch into your thoughts. When writing clients or other important readers, even using the “Dear so and so” is a polished way of simulating a time-honored letter. Starting with Hello, Good morning / afternoon salutations are a pleasant way to ease your reader into your day. When addressing senior authorities or older persons, respectfully address them with Mr. or Mrs. until you receive permission to use their first names.
Reply All – Refrain from pressing the tempting REPLY ALL button. No one wants to read emails from 15 colleagues about a subject that has nothing to do with them. Show consideration for all by only using the Reply All button on a ‘need to know’ basis.
Emotional Emails – Better to pick up the phone rather than relaying any message via email which will evoke negative emotion. Stick to hard facts and information exchanges in emails.
Exclamation Marks – These charming, quirky expressions of enthusiasm can be your friend or foe. Too many of these guys make you look emotional and unprofessional.
Rule of Thumb: Only one exclamation mark strategically placed per email!