illustration of woman working on laptop sending email

Write emails that make your mother proud

“Never put anything in writing that you don’t want the entire school to see!”
My mother drilled this idea into my head in the 70s and 80s, back when we passed notes folded into tiny triangles to friends in the hallway and kept dry erase boards in our lockers. I’ve never seen my kids come home with a hand-written note from a friend, but the lesson is still valid, maybe now more than ever. In the world of electronic communications and social media where messages are spread instantaneously, we should all be reminding our kids and ourselves…”never put anything in writing that you don’t want the entire WORLD to see!”

But email and social media etiquette goes way beyond being careful about what you say. It also applies to when we use email versus the phone and how we use them to make sure we are communicating effectively and efficiently.

So…since we could ALL use a refresher course on how to best use email…here are a few starters.

1. What’s it about anyway?

Make sure the subject line is clear, detailed, and accurate. Don’t dig up an old email and just reply to it. Start fresh or clean out the old conversation that is no longer relevant and change the subject.

2. Do you know the difference between CC and BCC?

If you are emailing a large group, use BCC. If you don’t know why, email me and I’ll explain in more detail. If you are replying to an email that was CCd (ouch) to a large group, DO NOT REPLY ALL unless your response is really (really!) relevant to everyone on the list. This is especially important when you’re just letting the sender know you “love it!”

3. Short emails. Longer calls.

The purpose of your email should be in the first two sentences. Write concisely. Use white space and/or bullet points to make it easy to read. And don’t forget to call on the phone when a longer explanation is needed or when you need to make a decision quickly. You can always follow up with a shorter email to create a paper trail.

4. Who are you?

Make it easy for people to contact you by setting up a signature block and using it on emails. Include your full name, title, organization and phone number at the very least.

5. Don’t skim!

We often read emails on our phones while doing other tasks. That encourages skimming. Make sure you completely understand the message before responding. And remember, emails written in haste often leave room for interpretation. When in doubt, ask for clarification and avoid the miscommunication merry-go-round.

6. And remember…email lasts forever!

Mom had it right. Don’t put anything into an email that you don’t want shared. This includes typos, bad grammar, and anything that might be interpreted differently than you intended.

Interesting in bringing your branding into your organization’s emails?

Send us a quick note and we’ll set up a time to chat.