Emails: love them or hate them, they have become a standardized way of communicating in the professional world.
And because of that, some professionals write a lot of them every day. An employee can easily write fifty or so emails in one sitting, especially if they’re constantly communicating with their team on projects.
Here’s how you can make your emails sound more professional and pleasant.
Why Writing Proper Emails is Important
Writing emails with good grammar, punctuation, and a signature might seem obvious, but there are a surprising number of people who don’t write proper emails.
Your emails are a reflection of yourself and your professionalism. You want to be respected by those who read your emails, not laughed at.
Emails are also oftentimes forwarded to other people, so you want to make sure you’re always writing them in a way where they sound great to whoever is reading them.
Think about it: have you ever received an email that seemed quite…unpleasant? Maybe passive aggressive? Or perhaps makes you downright wonder if the other person even read your previous emails?
The way you write your emails matters. You want people to think you’re genuinely nice and positive, even if you’re disagreeing or telling someone something they might not like.
Are you ready to start writing better emails? Here’s 8 tricks.
1. Address the Person
This is fairly simple — you want to use the person’s first name when you write the email.
Some people will directly respond without acknowledging the person who sent it, but it’s always more professional to send the message with the person in mind.
Personally, I always starting my emails with “Hello [Name],” because it shows the person I am talking to them.
And double-check their name is spelled right!
Also if the person is a Doctor or has earned a certain credential, always address them using it unless they tell you otherwise. Remember, it’s better to be more professional than not.
2. Start with a 1-2 small intro that leads into the message
When you write your email, the next step is to begin with a small introduction. This one-two sentences can help make your email sound more pleasant and personal rather than getting right to the point.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
I hope you had a great weekend! I personally enjoyed the sunshine we’ve been having here in the Cleveland area.
See how that makes the email immediately more pleasant and personal? It also only takes ~20 seconds to write something nice!
But what if you aren’t creative? Well, look no further: here’s 11 ideas for email openers.
- I hope you’re having a great day!
- Happy [Day of the week]! We’re slowly but surely on the way to Friday.
- Thanks for your response! I really appreciate the time you took to give me your input on…
- I hope this email finds you well.
- Thanks for your help with this project. I really appreciate the time you put into making X a success.
- My name is X, and I’m a [title of job] here at [company]. It’s a pleasure to e-meet you!
- I appreciate your quickness in getting back to me.
- Did you know today is [insert holiday]? I’m celebrating with… (Example: Did you know today is National Pizza Day? I’m celebrating with some Pizza Hut later!)
- Congratulations on… I’m so happy for you.
- I appreciated seeing you at [event]. I’m quickly following up on our conversation about…
- Happy Friday Eve! (my personal favorite, and what I always say on Thursdays!)
Of course, there’s many other ways to begin an email in a pleasant and fun way, but these ideas can help you get started.
But what if you’re writing a lot of emails a day?
If you’re someone that has an active inbox, the good news is you can reuse the same introductions if you’re talking to different people.
It’s not like someone is going to know, right?
Besides, who is going to know you mentioned it’s Friday Eve in every email? (I always do on Thursdays, and while some people roll their eyes, others love the joke!).
3. Say what you mean, but pleasantly
The next step to writing a successful email is by saying example what you mean — pleasantly.
Have you ever received a direct email that said something about your work that confused you? You might be wondering, “what do I need to change” if the person pointed something out but was too vague.
Here’s an example:
The ROAS metrics on the report are wrong. I recalculated them on my excel spreadsheet, and you clearly didn’t check the math. Redo by EOD.
See how this comes off? Even if the person sending this is correct, there’s a better way to tell someone to redo the project.
I was looking over the report, and I noticed some inconsistencies with the metrics. The percentages for the ROAS don’t seem to match with what I’m getting. Can you please double-check the formula you used and send me an updated version by the end of the day? Thank you!
Even though the latter version is longer, it’s a nice way of letting your coworker know they need to change something about their work.
4. Be nice, even if they’re not
You always want to strive to be pleasant in every email interaction, even if the person isn’t.
This can be challenging, especially when there’s a disagreement or a major mistake was made on your part.
However, remaining pleasant in your interaction with the other person will help keep the relationship professional, especially if you only communicate by emails with the person.
No one likes drama at work, and it certainly doesn’t need to be in your email inbox, either.
Here’s an example of a mean response and how to respond:
I noticed you didn’t finish that graphic I asked you to make last Friday. When is that going to get done? We have deadlines to meet.
Notice how short and abrupt the sender is? This comes off as accusatory and annoyed that Sally didn’t meet the deadline.
But there is a way Sally can respond professionally:
- Directly address the problem
- Explain what happened
- Provide the solution, and don’t make them search for it
I hope you’re having a great day! Thanks for bringing this to my attention that you’re looking to finish this project.
Per my last email, I had asked if you had approved the copy for the mock-up I sent last Wednesday. I have attached it again for your review.
Once I receive approval, I can send you the finalized version by the end of the day. I am looking forward to hearing back from you.
In this scenario, Sally didn’t finish her graphic because she was awaiting approval. But she directly states it and sends her manager the file he needs to approve.
She also provides a solution and gives John a deadline of when she can finish it. This maintains her professionalism and doesn’t accuse John of being the one who delayed the project.
5. Don’t Immediately Respond when You’re Unsure
Another part of maintaining professional relationships over emails is by always responding to the message accurately.
Let’s say your boss sends you a hasty email, and you don’t understand the full context of what it says. Your first instinct might be to ask questions, but it might better to wait to respond.
After all, you don’t want to ask something irrelevant if you aren’t sure.
Here’s a few tricks you can use to respond to emails smarter:
- Wait thirty minutes. This will give you time to think about the message and what it entails. After all, you aren’t sure what’s being asked, so giving yourself some time between responding can help you think more clearly.
- Go through the message piece by piece. Sometimes when we read messages, we quickly glance over them because we’re busy. However, going through the message slower might give you a better idea of what it says.
- See if anyone else asks a question. If there’s multiple people tagged on the message, chances are they will ask the question you’re thinking of. Even though you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions, you want to ask the right ones, so if someone else asks it then the message wasn’t clear to begin with.
- Type a logical response. Ask for further clarification on the task if you need it after piecing together what you do know. You also might be surprised how much you actually do understand after going through the message a second time.
Always try to respond to your emails smarter, not faster. This will help keep your professional image as you type emails out to others.
6. Always respond in a timely manner
Another part of proper email etiquette is always responding in a timely manner.
While you don’t have to respond to your messages immediately, you want to give people answers quickly.
After all, people are relying on your response to get work done. However, you might not always have the time to respond as soon as you see the message.
Here’s how you can work to respond to emails in a timely manner:
- Organize your inbox. Clean out the messages that you don’t need to respond to by organizing them into folders. This will help keep your inbox cleaned and only contain the messages that need replies.
- Use the “read/unread” feature. Many inboxes have the ability to mark emails as unread; you can mark ones you need to respond to with this.
- Respond to all the emails you know the answer/details for certain first. When you’re responding to emails, choose to answer the ones you can first. This will help narrow your inbox down to the ones that are trickier or need a longer, more thought-out response.
- Make sure you didn’t leave anyone hanging. At the end of the day, glance over your messages. Check and make sure you didn’t accidentally leave anyone’s message unanswered. This can be the last thirty minutes of your day.
If you respond to each and every email that you receive, you’ll greatly boost your professional image; after all, people don’t want to have to follow up or ask again. Keeping track of your emails and the responses can help make you appear more approachable and pleasant.
7. Follow up Politely
Another way to write better emails is by following up with others politely.
Let’s say you sent a message to someone yesterday, but they haven’t responded yet.
You might feel a bit annoyed, especially if you need your message returned as soon as possible; however, you shouldn’t show that in your follow-up email.
Generally, if someone hasn’t responded within twenty-four hours, it’s okay to follow up with them. After all, if you follow up the same day, you might come off as hasty or impatient, especially if that person was in a meeting or had other daily obligations.
Here’s some steps you can take to follow up with someone:
- Follow up on the same message thread. When you follow up, do so on the same string of messages. This will not only allow the person to refresh their memory on what was said previously, but they can see what you had wrote to them before.
- Be cheerful. Start your message with a greeting such as “I hope you’re having a great day! I wanted to follow up on….”
- Ask again directly what you need from them. Whether it’s a file, more information, or the part they’re contributing to the project, ask them specifically what you need.
Always end the email with “I’m looking forward to hearing back from you soon” or something of that nature. This sounds more inviting than “Get back to me ASAP” or “I need you to send this over now!”
Give the other person the benefit of the doubt, and never accuse them of skipping your message. They may have had other priorities that day, or simply forgot.
8. Include everything needed within your emails to others
When you email other people, you should always include all of the information that they need in your email.
Spreading out information over multiple emails feels disorganized and gives your team the chance that they may miss something important. That’s why you should attach the files they need and include everything as part of the same message.
You should also recap any important information if necessary. This will help your team so that way they don’t have to go back through their old messages to find the info.
Sending over information over multiple messages feels disjointed and unorganized. Be a person who includes everything in one email so your team can easily get the information they need for your next project!
Are you ready to start writing better emails?
With these tips in mind, you can start writing better emails today.
Take the time to review these tips and start integrating them into your daily routine. Soon enough, they will simply become a habit that you’ve built.
It’s important to always be someone people can easily communicate with, no matter what the form is. And as more jobs become available remotely as technology improves, you might find yourself in a position where you communicate with others across the country.
Take advantage of sounding pleasant over emails and start improving today!
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