The professional email may be one of the most popular forms of communication in the American workplace. Whether you’re emailing your clients, your boss, or your employees, it’s important that you are able to communicate effectively and efficiently. But we’ve all received the kinds of emails that feel overly professional, provide too much information, or come across as curt or even angry. So how can you make your emails simpler and well received? Here are three simple ideas that will help improve your emails today.
1. Focus on the very first word.
There are infinite ways you can begin an email. Formal letters always began with “Dear,” but that isn’t as common with an email, even when the email is going to a professional contact. Some email authors simply use the person’s name to kick off the email, but when that version is read in someone’s head, it can sound like a demand. Others may start with a casual “Hey,” or even, “Good Morning,” or “Good Afternoon.” Whatever you do, choose something that is a normal greeting and expected in both casual and professional correspondence. In fact, “Hi,” is one of the best choices.
2. How to be friendly and personal.
Here’s a line we’ve all toed. How do you come across as friendly and someone who genuinely wants to know about their life outside of work? It’s easy on a Monday, “Hey! I hope you had a great weekend.” Or when someone returns from vacation, “I hope your trip to New Orleans was fun and relaxing.” But you always want to be careful that you’re not digging up something painful or just being polite for the sake of it. It really is okay to skip this pleasantry if you can’t think of anything appropriate right away.
3. Tell them what you need.
Of course, if you’re composing an email it probably means there’s something you need from the recipient. And it can be hard to ask your question or make your request in the best way when you can’t see body language or hear their tone of voice. So, it’s very common for us to add qualifiers to these requests; “I know you’re super busy, but,” The truth is, the more you obscure your question the harder it will be for the reader to interpret what you’re really asking. Instead of trying to beat around the bush, just get to the point. It’ll be much easier for your reader to understand what you’re really asking.
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