You send plenty of texts, IMs and social media messages throughout the day, but email continues to be the king of communication. Last year, technology market research firm Radicati revealed that business professionals sent more than 108 billion emails each day. That number is going to get even bigger, too. The firm projects business email traffic will surge to nearly 140 billion emails each day by 2018.
As you write, receive and contribute to the crowded email traffic lanes, here are four simple tips for being a better communicator.
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1) Be specific.
What does your schedule look like over the next month?
This question is too vague. An email needs a specific, actionable end. If you’re working to arrange a time for a call or an in-office visit, give the recipient a certain window of dates. If you’re looking for feedback, direct the recipient toward certain elements where you can really use his or her opinion.
2) Read. Then, read again.
While we have all grown accustomed to signatures that include “Sent from iPhone, please excuse any misspellings”, this doesn’t mean that proofreading should be part of the past. In today’s send-a-reply-in-record-time business environment, a well-crafted, mistake-free message can help you stand out as a more distinguished professional and writer.
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3) Avoid drowning anyone in the sea of “see below.”
Here’s the scenario: you’ve been exchanging notes with a vendor regarding an upcoming meeting to work out the specifics. After 10 replies, you realize you need to loop in a colleague who will know the answer to a new question. While hitting the forward button may be easy for you, the message will mean nothing to your colleague. Rather than passing along the mile-long exchange, send the new recipient a separate note with a clear outline of your request.
4) Know when it’s time to pick up the phone.
This might be the most valuable tip for writing better business emails: recognize when you shouldn’t be sending the message to someone’s inbox. Remember that text cannot always translate emotion. Will your words about deleting a specific part of a contract sound more aggressive than you’d like? Do you need to address a sensitive issue? Is the person on the other end upset and in need of a more than a three-sentence apology? Email is not always the answer. In an era where everyone is dealing with electronic overload, a phone call can make a big difference.
You aren’t just writing emails to colleagues and business contacts, though. Check out this article for valuable tips on how to craft better emails to attendees.