As a freshman in college, I’d come in from the pool, bikini still on, open my account my and poof! There would be an email from a crush back home, or a health article from my mom, a vibrant, goofy animated Thinking of You card, a just-writing-to-say-Hello note. I remember how fun emailing was. I hadn’t associated it with anything other than socializing (yet!) Today, emailing has whole new connotations.
Emailing- can’t live with it, can’t live without it.
Let’s see… I now have 5 working email accounts. Two of those are work accounts, one is the same one I’ve always had, and two are for my blogging lifestyle. Although, one of the blogging ones I don’t check regularly (it’s sort of an understudy). Unlike my freshman year of college, now when it’s time to check an email, my mindset changes. I enter “profresh” mode, never knowing if things as intense as a rejection letter or a publishing announcement is going to show up on my computer screen.
I could have an email announcing a new publication of my last poetry submission, or it might be an email from my boss with her third reminder of an upcoming deadline. It might be my mom reminding me of three family events approaching this month, an interesting article I should read, an invitation to a reunion, a donation request to save the Florida manatee, a rejection letter from a magazine, a comment on the blog, some kind of email drama or birthday you forgot about announcement…
I’m sure you can relate. Emailing is now a balancing act that requires grace, wit, timeliness, neutrality, proper grammar, technology skills, social appeal and who knows what more. As email entwines into our daily routines almost as much as snacks and meals (perhaps even more so), mastering the art of emailing is no less necessary than mastering the art of small talk or schmoozing etc.
Recently, I encountered some email drama associated with work, and I was flabbergasted to read a message claiming incorrect statements. We will leave it at that. This person’s email was forwarded to quite a few people, including superiors. I ruminated, wondering how a person could make these comments in a documented setting.
Hence today’s post: what not to write in emails at work.
1. Do not spill out emotions, even if something is unfair, or if you’re overwhelmed etc. Convey as little emotions as possible. Use straightforward, literal and polite logic.
2. Do not use sarcasm; tones don’t cross without components of sound and facial gestures.
3. Never say never or always. Exaggerations via email can be alarming, implying an extreme situations. They can also be biased, inaccurate and misleading.
4. Do not convey any doubts or insecurity. For example, don’t use phrases like “I think,” or “personally.”
5. Don’t misspell or use poor grammar.
6. Do not slander or imply slander based on he-said-she-said. It is unprofessional, but also it may get back to your colleague or boss.
7. Do not press blame; you run the risk of sounding “whiny” or irresponsible.
8. Don’t make assumptions or guesses. When in doubt, don’t. The last thing you want to elicit is inaccuracy.
9. If you missed some info at a meeting because you zoned out or because your boss skipped some details, never point out anyone’s deficiencies. For example, don’t say, “I must have been distracted… ” or “You forgot to mention… ” Just ask for the info politely and leave it at that.
10. Don’t mention other priorities on your plate. Your aim should be to make your email’s reader feel like a priority.