The amount of work emails we receive each day is almost endless, and the average worker spends a quarter of their time combing through each and every email, in a relentless attempt to clear their ever-growing inbox.
Seeing that we often send emails back and forth, it’s so easy to make embarrassing mistakes that could potentially be detrimental in a professional interaction.
In today’s business environment, regardless of the industry, it’s critical to communicate effectively, and this usually involves the heavy use of email. As the email is often the first impression the receiver gains of the sender, a poorly written email will undeniably result in a poor first impression.
Nonetheless, I’m sure we have all received our fair share of emails that have made us cringe. Here are nine bad email habits that you should avoid:
1. Writing An Email Like You’re Messaging Your Friend
“heyyyy mike here. is the mtg still on tmr? cn we mke it @ 4pm starbucks lol ☕☕☕”
Not acceptable. Business emails should never be confused with texting.
Regardless of how casual you think your business relationship is, you can never go wrong with properly written and grammatically correct verbiage. Type the words out in full, because shorthands can come across as extremely unprofessional.
However, that does not mean that you cannot use shorthands at all. Here are some work-appropriate ones:
2. Disregarding The True Purpose Of Cc And Bcc
Be careful with this one. It seems like somewhere along the way, the initials ‘Cc’ has begun to take on an entirely different meaning – Copy Carelessly.
More often than not, people tend to get carried away and include a dozen or so colleagues that couldn’t care less about the email. The overuse of the Cc line also increases others’ email volume unnecessarily, so I strongly advise you to use it with discretion.
Thankfully, the Bcc line is not as commonly misused. The proper usage for it is limited to including a colleague in your own company on an email to someone outside your company. Any other use comes across as underhanded at best, and displays a clandestine intention. Managers should read between the lines when they’re blind copied in an email.
It should go without saying though, that you should not respond to an email on which you were just a Bcc. If you’re the sender, consider eliminating the Bcc and simply forwarding the email (after it’s been sent) to those you intended to Bcc.
This way they can never expose you by replying to everyone on the original email.
3. Abusing The ‘Reply To All’ Button
Please think twice before hitting the ‘Reply To All’ button. No one wants to read emails from 20 people that have nothing to do with them.
Unless every member on the chain needs to receive that information, refrain from clicking ‘reply all’. Not all emails need to be sent to everybody, and you should take the time to loop out those individuals who will otherwise treat your sent mail as spam.
Also, if you add someone new to a Reply All chain, it’s basic courtesy to let everyone else in the conversation thread know. Keep the conversation on topic, and the number of people to a minimum.
4. Petty Spelling Mistakes
In this smartphone generation, we tend to craft our email messages when we are on-the-go using our mobile. With a significantly smaller display screen and keyboard size (compared to a desktop), we are more likely to make typos. Such mistakes convey to your reader a lack of professionalism and competency.
So if you must send emails from your mobile phone, be sure to activate your spellchecker to eliminate such errors. Similarly, you can also set up automatic spell-checking on your email programme. However, you shouldn’t rely entirely on spell-checkers.
Be sure to proofread your email a couple of times, preferably aloud, before hitting send.
5. Confusing And Indirect Subject Lines
Since people are overwhelmed with the influx of emails daily, your subject line needs to arouse the curiosity of the reader — otherwise, it will either go unread or get trashed. Keep your subject line crisp and succinct yet covering the intention of the email.
Examples of a good subject line: “Today’s meeting postponed to 10 March,” “RSVP for company event,” or “Proposal suggestions.” Just keep it short and sweet.
6. Sending Multiple Emails
Yes, we know emails are free and does not require any postage charges to send to to your recipient. But this does not mean that you can freely hit the ‘send’ button – and send it to the same person at that!
Give the recipient at least a day or two to get back to you, before you drop them another email. If no replies still come along, simply pick up the phone and give the person a call. Not every communication needs to be documented in email, right?
7. Misusing Email Terms
“Revert” is quite possibly the most abused word in the email landscape. Newsflash: Revert does not mean “reply”; it actually means “to return to a previous state”.
Correct usage: She reverted to her evil ways.
Wrong usage: Please revert with the details.
Please don’t ever use the word in such sentences anymore. Instead, a proper sentence that you can use to replace it with is, “Please get back to me with the details soon.” Simple!
8. Being Funny In The Wrong Context
Humour can easily get lost in translation without the right tone or facial expressions. Something perceived as funny when spoken may come across very differently when written. In a professional exchange, it’s better to leave humour out of emails unless you know the recipient well enough.
Just as jokes get lost in translation, tone is easy to misconstrue without the context you’d get from vocal cues and facial expressions. Accordingly, it’s easy to come off as more abrupt than you might have intended. While you might have intended to be straightforward, the reader might perceive you as being angry and curt instead.
To avoid misunderstandings, try reading your message out loud. If it sounds harsh to you, it’s likely to sound harsh to the reader too. For best results, avoid using unequivocally negative words, and don’t forget your P’s and Q’s.
9. Read, But Don’t Reply
You should do your best to respond to your business communications as quickly as possible. By not responding promptly, you can appear to be unorganised and uncaring to your business associate.
If an email warrants a reply, don’t just leave it unanswered. The sender needs to know you have received and read the email and got the necessary information. You can simply acknowledge it with a ‘noted’ to put the sender at ease.
Even In Emails, Manners Maketh A Man
Email is and will remain a cornerstone of the workplace culture. Do remember that your emails are essentially a reflection of who you are, your sense of professionalism, and attention to detail. Be polite, and always proofread what you have written before you click “send.”
When it comes to business, regardless of the mode of communication used, courtesy will never go out of style.
What are some pet peeves that you have when it comes to email communication? Share with us your worst email faux pas!
Featured Image Credit: Marketing Land