Email has changed how all businesses communicate due to its ability to efficiently and quickly disseminate information. However, the lack of personal interaction when utilizing email can cloud ideas, inadvertently set the wrong tone and even unnecessarily escalate negative emotions. This is only amplified when team members are in the field while reading and responding to emails.
Regardless of the specific purpose of the email, it is critical that the sender understands how to compose messages that are clear, concise, and avoid setting off emotions. The communication experts at M|GROUP summarized our five essential best practices to help safeguard relationships and increase communication success when utilizing email.
1. State your Purpose
Newspaper editors know the importance of a strong, informative headline, hence, think of the subject line as the headline to your email. The average employee receives up to 80 emails during the workday and a properly worded phrase in the subject line will allow recipients to quickly navigate through their sea of messages and determine what needs to be addressed right away.
Vague Subject Line: Budget Revisions
Informative Subject Line: Budget Revisions Attached – Needs Review/Approval by Wednesday
M|GROUP Tip: Unless there’s a real emergency, refrain from using “ASAP” or all caps in email subject lines.
2. Enough is Enough
In today’s commercial real estate industry, people are pressed for time and helping them save even a few seconds will be appreciated. Concise sentences and bullet points have been proven to be the most effective (and appreciated!) method of composing emails. After your initial draft, review it and ask yourself, “Can I consolidate my thoughts even more?”
Remember, email is not meant to replace face to face meetings where specific details or concepts are discussed, rather, it is a vehicle to communicate more efficiently and quickly. So, keep it simple, to the point and save the fluff for around the water cooler. Follow the below blueprint to lay out your thoughts and demonstrate to colleagues that you respect their time.
M|GROUP Tip: Utilize your review to also check for proper spelling and grammar usage!
3. Work is Work
Electronic communication has become part of the fabric of our daily lives and, as such, sometimes the lines between personal and professional use becomes blurred.
It is imperative that all communication sent from a company email address be professional and deal only with business related topics. The forwarding, either internally or externally, of “chain” emails, jokes or other topics/material that can be considered inappropriate from a company owned address or computer should be strictly prohibited. This policy also helps to avoid potential liability and cyber security concerns.
Personal business can be handled by employees utilizing a web-based program such as Gmail from their desktop or mobile device. However, care must always be exercised when opening links which may be infected with viruses or malware.
M|GROUP Tip: Be sure to consistently remind employees of your specific email and internet usage policies!
4. Drive the Tone
The written word can be more easily misconstrued than a face-to-face or phone conversation. Make it a habit to review your tone before hitting send to ensure no recipient gets the wrong idea. More importantly, be cognizant of your own state of mind when composing email messages. If you’re upset or hot, it may actually be therapeutic to type your thoughts as to why, however, the last thing you should do is hit send! Rather, save it, forget about it for a while or even sleep on it and then revisit your message with a clearer head to then decide if that’s truly the tone you want to express.
M|GROUP also subscribes to the adage “You Catch More Flies with Honey”, so feel free to:
M|GROUP Tip: Recalling an email does not remove it from the recipient’s inbox!
5. Timing is Everything
Here at M|GROUP, we make it a habit not to send negative, controversial, or any other form of bad news after 2:30 p.m. (unless it’s absolutely necessary!). In the late afternoons, most people are tired, their blood sugar is off, and they are focusing on the day’s end. Any news or information that is not positive has a high chance of being taken negatively, so it is best to wait until the next morning.
M|GROUP Tip: Bad News is best delivered with doughnuts!
By using these above tips, your emails will get an important point across quickly, efficiently and without drama which, in the end, saves everyone time. Remember, however, that while email is highly valuable, other forms of communication are more appropriate for certain situations.