Understand the limitations of email
Email is a great medium for communication but it is by no means perfect. Before sending your email, consider the limits of email and how misunderstandings can happen easily. Sarcasm, exaggeration, and other advanced language devices do not translate through email as they would during face to face or phone conversation. It is for this reason it is best to stick to short, simple instructions or questions rather then using complicated language that cloaks your true meaning. Effective communication is about being clear and straightforward.
Air on the side of formality
While you may be friends or close with a good number of your coworkers, at the end of the day they are just that, co-workers. They are not your friends, family, or social media followers. When unsure of what the tone of your email should be, air on the side of formality and professionalism. Without the assistance of facial queues and body language, an email’s meaning is more about the actual words on the screen then other forms of communication.
Understand company hierarchy
An email to your direct report employees should read much differently than an email to the CEO. Take the time to tailor your email to your intended recipient to ensure your email gets full consideration and isn’t deleted due to unprofessionalism. Keep in the mind the higher up an individual is in the organization, the more emails they are likely to receive per day. Consider short and to the point emails for executives, and if they like your idea or value your input, more emails or a meeting can be arranged.
Wait to write the email if you are emotional
Stressed about a deadline or project? Just got out of a meeting where you vehemently disagreed with everything that was decided? Before you jump to your email to rant about your boss to your co-workers or tell someone about how much you hate the new marketing plan, take a deep breath and step back from your computer. Emailing while in an emotional state of mind often has disastrous results. A simple 5 or 10-minute delay can help you write a more leveled headed and professional email that will likely be more persuasive in the end.
Email is NOT social media
One word responses, links to viral videos, and other content that is typical of social media is not acceptable for an interoffice email. Email should be used to communicate work and project instructions or questions, transfer documents such as spreadsheets, or other essential business functions. Do not slouch on using proper sentences and greetings when writing emails and your co-workers are likely to take what you have to say much more seriously.
Proofread, then proofread again
With the amount of email we send out and consume every day, it can be tempting to avoid proofreading as closely as you should in the interest of speed and efficiency. This can be a grave mistake, however, as you never know who or where your email will be forwarded to. If a higher up in the organization is forwarded your mistake-filled email about an important topic, that can reflect poorly or your attention to detail and leadership abilities.