Email Suggestions

  1. When replying, check who it is going to. Many embarrassments have been caused by "replying to all" when only one person was intended to receive the message.
  2. Begin with a salutation acknowledging who you are addressing. Consider adding the names of people receiving copies after the recipients name (i.e. "(cc Ryan, Becca)") so that they easily see who the message is intended for and who else is getting a copy. This helps others understand the message's context and avoid the situation covered in Suggestion #1.
  3. Lead off your email briefly supplying the context for your message, for example "Thanks for your help with the budget for next year." so that they don't have to have to figure out the context.
  4. Save time by being brief. Try following the 3-sentence rule, and add an explanation to your default signature so the recipient doesn't feel offended by your brevity (i.e. "Please do not be offended by short messages. I am endeavoring to adhere to the 3-sentence email rule.").

  5. If you are writing for help make it clear what you are asking them to do.
  6. When appropriate, give the recipient alternatives for action depending on the situation in order to avoid unnecessary email exchanges. For example, "Please write back if you know the answer. If you don't know, ask Hamib to contact me."
  7. Review and edit your message before sending it. In addition to tightening it up, look for opportunities where the recipient may misunderstand your feeling. It is easy for people to misinterpret what you are saying without seeing your facial expressions and posture and hearing your tone of voice.
  8. It is easier to get what you want by being polite than making demands. If you find yourself impatient for a response, remember that your recipient's email inbox may be full of other matters to attend to. Instead of complaining "I emailed you on Monday but haven't heard anything back yet" try "I'm sorry to write you again after my email on Monday, but I hope you will have a chance to ...". Respect your position in the hierarchy and be appropriately deferential.

  9. Sign your email so that they know they have reached the end of your message, especially if it is followed by bits of previous exchanges so that the new message is clearly separated from the old.

  10. Don't write emails when you are upset. Cool down first, or write the email to get something off your chest but don't send it.

  11. If you're using Gmail, learn how to use the Undo command. It gives you a few seconds to stop a message that you accidentally sent.

  12. If you find yourself starting to exchange a bunch of emails over an issue consider resolving the situation by phone or a meeting. Email is broken for some people due to the number of messages sent everyday. Consider limiting your interactions to people you can meet face-to-face and nurture organic communication.

  13. Post your schedule and suggest that people look at it to find times to meet. Use Doodle polls to schedule meetings when more than two people are involved.