Have you ever sent an email when you were just a little angry? Or noticed that you clicked on reply all after your email was sent, and now “everyone” may think that you are one of “those” emailers. What about getting an email from someone telling you that your attached file did not go through, and now you have to send it again?
We have all done it. Or maybe I tell myself that to reduce my embarrassment of being unprofessional. Millions of emails are sent every day. It is the main communication tool for professionals. And yet, we can all take a minute to up our email game and consciously avoid these eight common emailing mistakes:
- Replying to All, instead of only the Sender. This email mistake makes the top of the list because it can be so annoying to the others on the send list. By clicking on Reply All, everyone in the email list now knows that the responder has a Peanut Allergy or, even worse, likes to make inappropriate comments or jokes.
- Not using the Subject Line effectively. The Subject Line is perhaps the most overlooked part of the email. Often the subject line determines whether your recipient opens the email. This is especially true when the person you are sending to does not know you personally.
- Writing very long, rambling emails. When you send a long email, you risk that the recipient skims your email and does not receive all the information you are trying to communicate. Or worse, they may not read the email. It is important to edit yourself and make sure that you are concise and to the point.
- Not using bullet points or numbering to define your points. This is especially bad practice if you are asking for information or have questions. People tend to answer the last question in a wordy email. When that happens, you will need to email them again to get the information you need.
- Being too casual. Do you write your emails using slang or insider terminology? Do you email using the same abbreviations you text? Emailing your boss, “i will b late c u at 9,” is not professional.
- Sending an email when you are angry. Never, ever send out an email in anger. If you have drafted an email in anger, even righteous anger, wait at least a couple of hours before sending it. Chances are that you will soften the tone and modify the words or even delete the email.
- Sending huge files or not sizing photos. This is not the problem that it used to be when the internet could not transfer large files. Staying under 25 MB for all attached files is recommended. Photos can be tricky because the size of cell phone photos can be very large because of the photo quality. You do not want to send a huge photo that will fill the entire computer screen or take forever to load on a cell phone. You can reduce the size of your photo in your photo viewer or your email app may suggest a small photo.
- Waiting too long before replying – or not replying. This does not apply to spam emails or emails sent from unknown sources or unsolicited. Standard practice after receiving an email from someone that you work with or know is 24 hours. If you are not able to respond in 24 hours, you can always send a short email saying that you received the email and you will get back to them in (insert reasonable time). When you do not reply in an intentional amount of time, you risk forgetting to respond. Which is rude and the worst email mistake you can make.
Email will continue to be a primary communication tool for professionals. Take a few minutes to analyze your emailing techniques and be mindful of your emails. You may find that your emails sound more professional and get you the results you want.
Dr. Elaina Cantrell Robinson