Quit causing confusion with your emails

KeyboardImagine how much time we could save and how many misunderstandings we could avoid if everyone thought for a moment before hitting “Send” on the emails that they write. Following is great guidance for every email user, adapted from C3: Clear Concise Communication, a multimedia training kit that includes guidelines for more than a dozen types of communication.


When using email …


  • Use a specific subject line so that readers know exactly what your email is about.
  • Post a “call to action” in the subject line, such as “Please respond by August 1.”
  • Delete previous, unnecessary text from earlier responses when you reply.
  • Utilize the “bcc” function if it is appropriate to share an email with a particular recipient without other recipients knowing.
  • Insert a privacy statement in emails, which protects against the spread of misinformation.
  • Send one- or two-word confirmations or responses in the subject line, such as “Yes” or “Date confirmed,” followed by EOM for “end of message.” That way recipients don’t have to open the email to learn your response.
  • Respond in a timely fashion. Reply to all urgent messages immediately. For others, follow up within 24 hours, even if you are simply telling the recipient that you will send a more detailed message later.


  • Bold, underline, italicize or capitalize entire words or phrases. Not only does it make a message hard to read, but it can come across as rude.
  • Experiment with humor or creative writing styles that could leave the recipient offended or confused.
  • Share intimate or offensive thoughts over email.
  • Send a large attachment without first confirming that the recipient’s server can open it.
  • Jazz up emails with fancy fonts, colors, emoticons or other graphics. They can be distracting and look unprofessional.
  • Insert the recipients’ names into the “To” field until after you have carefully proofed your email.
  • “Reply all” to an entire group if your message is not relevant to everyone.
  • Address conflict, poor behavior or other sensitive topics in email. Pick up the phone or meet face to face instead.
  • Write anything in an email you would not say to someone’s face.

Order C3: Clear Concise Communication to learn the C3 process for writing effective emails.

With an effective communication strategy, your team can excel. You and your employees can work together to reach—and even exceed—your goals. And people can be happy at work. C3: Clear Concise Communication presents you with that strategy. With it, you will learn how to communicate in a direct manner—across all channels—that will ensure that you get the results you want while you avoid the communication pitfalls that can wreak havoc in the workplace.

Learn more!

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