Things Business People Should Avoid When E-mailing

Posted on June 23, 2008

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E-mail is an indispensable tool in the business world today.  It
combines the efficiency of the telephone with the written word.  E-mail
reduces the time that business people spend in face to face meetings
and on phone calls because many people may be contacted at once without
a need for scheduling.  In our industry, we are able to review
documents attached to the e-mail and send in comments and changes
quickly and without a lot of paper. 

On the other hand, some argue that we rely on e-mail too much.  Many
business people, especially younger business people, utilize e-mail
primarily instead of the telephone.  As a result, the workplace has
become increasingly impersonal as entire transactions are conducted
without ever picking up the phone.

E-mail is definitely here to stay.  It is used in business as a marketing tool, as well as a communication tool with potential and existing clients.  Therefore, businesses and their employees must learn how to effectively utilize this method of communication in order to attract and retain clients. 

A major issue in a business setting is that people often treat e-mails as an informal method of communication.  While this may, in fact, be the case when e-mailing with a college roommate, this informality should not extend to business communications.  Falling into this trap results in incomplete sentences and other various errors being present in e-mails to clients. 

One article I read recently (From the Introduction: "Why Do We Email So Badly") put it best when it outlined the eight deadly sins of e-mails as stated below: 

  1. The email that’s unbelievably vague. ("Remember to do that thing.")
  2. The email that insults you so badly you have to get up from your desk. ("HOW CAN YOU NOT HAVE DONE THAT THING!!!")
  3. The email that puts you in jail. ("Please tell them that I asked you to sell that thing when it hit $70.")
  4. The email that’s cowardly. ("Here’s the thing: you’re being let go.")
  5. The email that won’t go away. ("Re; Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: that thing.")
  6. The email that’s so sarcastic you have to get up from your desk. ("Smooth move on that thing. Really smooth")
  7. The email that’s too casual. ("Hiya! Any word on that admissions thing?")
  8. The email that’s inappropriate. ("Want to come to my hotel room to discuss that thing?")

E-mail is effective because it makes communication in the workplace simpler and faster.   It is crucial, however, that business people build on this effectiveness in e-mails to their clients by using a formal tone and writing clearly and concisely.  Please be aware that your e-mail is a significant component of your professional image and should be treated as such each time you hit the send button.

Elizabeth S. Ritter, Goodrich Law Firm, LLC

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