From meeting requests to sales pitches to friendly notes, we send and receive countless emails each day. Here are five common habits to avoid so you can make the inbox a happier place.
1) Reading messages during meetings.
You’re in a meeting. Your phone buzzes. Is it that client finally sending the signed contract? While it may seem socially acceptable to pull the phone from your pocket and check, acceptable doesn’t necessarily translate to appropriate. In fact, a recent survey conducted by UK-based OfficeTeam shows that only one in 10 HR directors believe it is okay for employees to read and respond to emails during meetings.
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2) Copying everyone in the company.
It’s common to want to keep everyone in the loop on new developments on a project. However, the CC bar can be dangerous. Before you begin adding addresses to the message, ask yourself who really needs the update. Only invite recipients who are directly impacted to join the conversation.
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3) Abusing the urgent sign.
Stop what you’re doing! There is a red exclamation point next to a message that just arrived! It demands your attention!
Oh, it’s actually just a note about the need to schedule a phone call to discuss a contract. While the discussion may indeed matter, it does not qualify as “urgent.” Be sure to use your “high importance” and “urgent” distinctions very carefully. If used too much, they begin to fall into “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” territory, and recipients will stop reading anything you send them.
4) Writing novels.
While lengthy paragraphs served Hemingway and Dickens well, they don’t serve much purpose in an inquiry about the food and beverage costs at an upcoming event. Keep your emails as concise as possible, and use bullet points whenever possible. Remember that many recipients are reading the message on a smartphone, and they don’t want to play the when-can-I-actually-stop-swiping game.
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5) Using ambiguous subject lines.
“Hey.” “Question.” “Some news.” What do all of these have in common? They don’t really mean anything.
The subject line is the sweet spot of the email. It’s what everyone will see, so make it clear and direct. Give your colleague, boss or client a good preview of the body of the email.
Looking for more advice on how to avoid being “that guy” when it comes to bad communication? Click here to register for a free PCMA webinar on business etiquette.