Four More Thoughts on Email Etiquette
Previously I suggested four items that may help improve your email communication.
Use the subject line wisely.
Fill in the To: line last.
Below I have four more thoughts based on emails I’ve received recently:
No open-ended questions – Have you ever received a long email which ended with “Thoughts?” Wouldn’t it be better if the sender were specific with their request? I would rather read “Do you think we should use approach 1, 2, or 3?” than an open ended question. This leads me to:
Use Numerical Lists & Bullet Points – when your email contains several questions, tasks or takeaways I think it’s best to use a numerical list or bullet points to separate your thoughts.
Don’t “Bury the Lead” – A nod to my journalism friends. If you’re asking your reader(s) to take action steps, list those items first. By listing the action steps first, followed by content; you are providing the reader context to the action items. Thus helping them map a plan of attack before they are even done reading the email.
How Long Is Too Long? Email threads are helpful in organizing communications between two or more people. But it’s important to remember that “organization” can quickly turn into chaos. To prevent from losing emails in the clutter and communication becoming blurred as the subject drifts from the original; you can start a new, on topic thread simply by changing the subject line.