LOL: Bad Email Habits to Avoid

We’ve all been victims to bad email habits. From receiving a late night angry rant without a single capitalized letter, to receiving an email that is impossible to read because a lengthy message is in the subject line.

And we all have our own bad habits. Maybe our emails are too long, or we use too many emoji and not enough words that can be found in a dictionary. These habits waste time, hurt reputations, and create miscommunication. So what can you do to prevent any potential bad habits?

Before sending an email, figure out the goal of the email. Who is the intended audience?Emails sent to a friend are much different than ones sent to a client. Even within the workplace, an email sent to co-worker you know well should be different than an email sent to the president of the company. Be conscious of these factors.

Be careful with the tone of your message, which can be hard to convey in an email. A one word response might be read differently than you expect. It is important to recognize that the reader can’t see your body language, so try to use positive language as much as possible.

Another thing to keep in mind is that email should not always be a substitute for a phone call or face-to-face conversation. Some things can be easily miscommunicated in writing. A phone call may prevent this problem, while also allowing you to cover several topics in an efficient way.

Use subject lines appropriately. We’ve all received messages where the subject line either includes no relevant information (and the email is ignored) or the subject line includes the entire message (and is difficult to read). Instead of these approaches, use the subject line strategically to convey the necessary information efficiently.

Try to use proper grammar as much as possible. This includes capitalizing letters when necessary, and using actual words instead of made-up abbreviations. Improper grammar not only hurts the sender’s reputation, but also makes the message much harder to understand.

Do your best to keep it simple. People receive a lot of emails every day. And emails already can be difficult to decipher. It is far more effective to keep emails simple, and to get to the point early in the message. Also, don’t experiment too much with different font styles or colors. The last thing a client or colleague wants to try to read is an email written in yellow cursive size 25 font.

Finally, sleep on it. Avoid writing emails when you are angry, or late at night when you are tired and prone to make mistakes. Instead, draft an email (sometimes without the recipient’s email address to avoid accidently sending it) and read it after some time has passed. This approach is also effective for emails that might be a little longer than usual. It helps ensure that the tone is proper and that there aren’t obvious grammatical mistakes. If the email is about a sensitive or important issue, don’t be afraid to ask someone else to review the draft.