19 Email rules for idiots

Published in Interesting

19 Email rules for idiots Email: It's something we do every day, but I'm constantly suprised how poorly people communicate via this medium. An email is a conversation, treat it like one.


Here are 19 email rules for idiots:

  1. Give every email a poignant (that means relevant) subject name 2 when replying to an email:
  2. Make sure the subject is still relevant, change it if it is not. (refer rule 1)
  3. Don't just reply to an email as a lazy way of finding someones address (without creating a relevant subject heading, refer rules 2 and 1). Did you do know that if you start typing the name address of the person you are sending the email to, most modern email clinets (apps) will find the correct address for you to click on?
  4. Separate different ideas into different paragraphs or sections (didn't your school teachers tell us this?)
  5. If you have to ask questions, try to give as much relevant information as possible about the question so people don't need to reply asking for more details.
  6. Don't answer questions with question (see next point)
  7. If you are the recipient of an enquirery with insufficient information to answer the question, try to answer it anyway. You can do this by making presumptions based on experience. You can also suggest different options relavant to most eventualities.
  8. Be honest. Those lies you made up six months ago are easy to find in an inbox. Or are you looking to get caught with egg on your face?
  9. Try to preempt possible reactions to your comments and continue the conversation hypothetically, this can cut down email exchanges to days instead of months.
  10. Use images where you can. Take a photo or google what you are talking about and show it instead of describing it. It might take a little more time while writing the email, but a picture tells a thousand words... you can right click any image on the web and click "copy image address", paste this into your email if you need to explain something.
  11. By now you should know that uppercase letters should not be used UNLESS YOU'RE SHOUTING so don't use them unless you are.
  12. Remember the email is going to be received by a person who has feelings and opinions if you challenge them, you could be in for a fight or just simply ruin somebody's day. Tone it down, stick with the facts. No matter how serious the situation avoid getting personal.
  13. Just before you send an email, re-read it an imagine how it sounds to the recipient, fix any spelling mistakes and eliminate anything superflous (keep to the point).
  14. Don't use email just because it's there, remember you can still also use the telephone. Even if your company requires a paper trail, decide how urgent/complicated the communication exchange is going to be and prefer email only when you have time for a complete email conversation. Remember you can achieve a lot in a small time frame by making a phone call. If you need the afore mentioned paper trail but also would prefer to make a call, by all means do so, organize everything you need and then send an email to confirm everything you discussed.
  15. Dont link unnecessarily. If you have a page of information useful to the recipient of your email, by all means send them a link. However, if there is specific relevant content burried in a large page, don't make your recipent have to search for it. Just copy and paste in the email.
  16. Remember also that you have knowledge and experience that the recipient may not have, this should make it easier for YOU to find answers and for YOU to help them, don't point them in the direction of self help unless it will help them in the future.
  17. If you must send links, make sure they are relevant. Don't just email links to helpful pages without making sure they answer question, or provide benefit. It might take a bit more time, but if you just send a links to a commonly referred to web page about the  topic, it might not actually contain the usefull info and you will just end up having to field an angry response.
  18. Don't use jargon the recipient might not understand. Use you brain (that's why we have them), not everyone knows all the industry specific words you do, consider what their knowledge might be and be prepared to explain concepts. You can take the opportunity to introduce words your recipient might not be familiar with, but define them if you do.
  19. Don't pass the buck if you don't need to. If you can't help but someone you know can, why not take responsibility for finding the solution. If you learn to help someone you can use in the future an your recipient will appreciate not being bounced around. Remember that providing an email link to another department can end in a never ending loop of frustration for your recipient.