Email is a huge form of communication between your boss, colleagues and clients. Which means that every message you send actually forms an impression of the kind of person you are. That’s why you need to learn how to be professional when sending and replying an email. And the fact that nothing is confidential about emails (there’s that forward button) is exactly why you need to follow these eight professional rules of email.
#1 Always have a clear, direct subject line
First things first – don’t use Hi or Hello as your subject line, especially if you’re writing to your boss who receives tons of emails on a daily basis. Besides, people often decide whether to open an email based on the subject line. So you want to be as clear as possible. Your subject line should be exactly that – what the subject of your email is. For example, if it is about scheduling a meeting, the subject line should state “Meeting Date” and not “Are You Free?”
#2 Make no mistakes
Write your email, then read and re-read it to make sure that it is free from spelling and grammar mistakes. Ensure that your email has an intro, body and conclusion so that it is easy to follow. A badly written email with errors won’t do your professional image a favour.
#3 To emoji or not
This is a fine line – not everyone is a fan of them and you won’t really know who is and who isn’t. It’s best to stay clear of emojis but sometimes being casual can help you connect better with the person you’re emailing. So the rule of the thumb? If it is a casual-ish email to a colleague at the same level, then emojis are fine. But even then, use sparingly. Save the emojis for your friends.
#4 Mind your manners
Like you would in a face-to-face conversation with your boss, you should also come across as respectful in your email. Please, thank you, you’re welcome – these are words to include in your email. And if you’re addressing someone you only have a formal working relationship with, address them by their title (Mr, Miss) and surname (Lim, Bakri). You can only safely assume it is OK to address them by their first name if they signed off with it when replying your email.
#5 Short and sweet
You’re not writing a book and besides, nobody wants to spend all that time reading your email that goes on and on when whatever you need to say can be done in a paragraph or two. So if you want your recipient to read your email and understand it, keep it short and sweet. Just stick to the details.
#6 No LOLs
It’s please, not plz. It’s thank you, not tq. It’s OK, not K. It’s in my humble opinion, not IMHO. Get the picture?
#7 Think twice before you reply all
Unless you really think that everyone on the list needs to read your reply, refrain from hitting “reply all” as it can get annoying to get an email that doesn’t concern you. Imagine if 20 people on the list all hit “reply all”, you’ll be getting 20 emails (or more) on things that have nothing to do with you.
#8 Reply all your emails in a timely manner
Someone (your boss) wrote you an email because they want a reply from you. Send a reply within an hour and not the next day (unless of course you are super busy or traveling and your boss is aware of it). Also, don’t keep the chain of reply. Once you’ve replied thank you and the other person replied you’re welcome, that’s it. No need to reply to acknowledge that you’ve received that last email.