5 email mistakes you're probably still making

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By now, you think we'd all be pros at this whole emailing thing, but with how many messages we send on a daily basis it can be easy to overlook some pretty important stuff. We spoke with Nanette Fondas, who writes the "WorkLife Matters" blog at Psychology Today, to get some quick tips on how we can avoid five of the biggest email mistakes.

Mistake 1: You're too familiar

It doesn't matter how often you're emailing the same coworker or supervisor, your business emails should always be professional. Yes, it's fine-and encouraged-to be friendly in these messages, but don't let a friendly tone turn into a too-casual conversation. Save the banter for later, when you're off the clock.

Here's Nanette:

Remember that an email is a substitute for you, particularly if you are making a request. So err on the side of courtesy and formality. Personally, I think the best style is friendly and warm, but highly professional.

Mistake 2: Your tone doesn't transfer

Until someone invents an app smart enough to convey your tone, save the sarcasm and the quirky remarks for your face-to-face conversations. The occasional asterisks for emphasis or emoticon for friendliness are OK, depending on the type of email, but even then, these should be used sparingly.

Here's Nanette:

People are starting to use asterisks and emoticons but, be careful, because they can be misunderstood. For business, I think expressing what you mean, and being as precise and concise as possible, is best. Don't make the recipient work too hard to figure out what you're saying!

Mistake 3: You're a cc-junkie

For the love of all things holy, stop adding the entire company to every email you send. Just. Stop. Unless you have a darn good reason to loop in several people on a single email, don't. The never-ending cc list. Many of us are guilty of copying all the wrong people on a business email.

Here's Nanette:

People receive so many emails, and work such long hours, you really should think twice before adding someone to an email thread. You wouldn't yank just anybody into the hall for an impromptu meeting, so be thoughtful before hitting that cc button.

Mistake 4: You reply too soon

Yes, it's good to be prompt, and you shouldn't procrastinate on responding to work-related email. However, if it's an email that's suddenly got your blood boiling, take a breather before pattering away and set up a filter before firing off something you'll later regret.

Here's Nanette:

Start a new email and address it to yourself. Venting has a way of calming your frustrations, so it's a great self-help tool. But do it in a new email or, better yet, in a journal. Then wait a day or two, reread it, and decide if it deserves to be sent to anyone.

Mistake 5: You're verbose

Perhaps the biggest email crime of all-one we've certainly all been guilty of at some point-is the severe lack of brevity. Don't let your message get muddled in a sea of unnecessary explanations. Instead, get straight to the point and be as clear as possible-you'll be far more likely to receive a quick response.

Here's Nanette:

One mistake is to make it too long and unclear why you're writing. It's always a good idea to say in the first sentence or two why you are writing. Increasingly I'm seeing people use the bold and underline options to highlight the critical parts of the message. That is courteous and will be noticed and appreciated by the recipient.

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Contributor

Stacy Warden

Stacy is a contributing editor of the Pluralsight blog and has worked in publishing since the dawn of the iPhone. Currently, Stacy deals in tech and education--a combination that she finds absolutely fascinating. You can find her on Twitter @sterrsi.