Everyone makes mistakes, but you should try to minimize them. That's why, when you're sending an email, it's always good to read and double-check it for spelling and tone. For example, if you're sending a proposal for work to a potential client, don't be surprised if you're rejected because of that one mistake in the body of your text.
Email is a special brand of hell, though. We all have too much of it, and none of us like it that much. You know how you dislike going through vast swaths of it? Everyone feels that way. Have a little empathy and try to make it easy for others by leaving the drama out of your emails. Here are 10 tips that should help you avoid becoming the poster child for how to not send emails.
1) Forgetting to attach something
People do this every day. No matter how easy it is to forget to attach something, there's still no turning back after you hit Send. Perhaps it's not a big deal if you're communicating with an office mate or a friend. However, if you're sending an important document to a new client, it can make you look a bit unprofessional. An easy fix is to attach what you want to send first to ensure it's there when you're ready to hit Send.
2) Lack of greeting and closing
You wouldn't just walk up to someone and start talking to him or her without a proper greeting, so why would you in an email? One example is the dreaded automated pitch from a PR entity who clearly hasn't read any of my work or taken the time to see if I've written about the space in which his or her product exists. Take the time to make your email personal because, if you don't, it could be perceived as rude and upset some powerful people in the office.
3) Replying to all instead of just one person
If you're used to hitting Reply All, it becomes very easy to do so when you shouldn't. If what you have to say doesn't directly affect every person in the email, make sure your reply is going only to the applicable person(s). Nobody has all day (or even a few spare minutes) to try to figure out what your email means. And besides, these types of things have led to people being fired, depending on the subject matter.
4) Interacting casually
Don't do it. The office email is not the place for the type of casual internet interaction. Generally, you should try to use some form of chat for quick, informal communication with colleagues. If you send something like that to the wrong person, it can reflect badly on your business life.
5) Not getting to the point of what you want
Sometimes we're so focused on sending the email and making sure there are no spelling mistakes that we forget to even state what we wanted in the first place. This can be confusing and result in several emails back and forth, wasting both parties' time. If you have a question of some kind, be clear and get to it right away. I tend to leave emails unanswered if the person doesn't specifically state in it what he or she wants.
6) Sending emails at any time of day
Although you may think people need your email as soon as you write it, this is wrong. Just because you like to work at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night doesn't mean your colleagues do too. Using Delay Send is a great idea for those emails you type when you're off the clock or working late on a weekend day. Sending at these times alerts others that you are perhaps a little too available. And that can lead to plenty of unwanted, unbillable hours.
7) Lax subject lines
Not having a relevant subject line can be a bad mistake in the business world. If you're trying to build a client relationship, including the person's name is a good idea. In general, be concise with your subject line and make sure you mention something that highlights the importance and content of the email. If you aren't keeping the subject line relevant, your email may sit unopened longer than you'd like.
8) Too much information
Don't force people to read your email for 30 minutes. Are you the one who needs to say way too much every time you send something? This can lead to people just skimming over whatever you write in an effort to find something important. It also leads people to grow tired of how you talk too much and waste everyone's time.
Stop it. Send a brief email that gets straight to the facts. People will be much happier that they don't have to read an entire book, and they'll know you're an efficient person who cares about their sanity.
9) Random apology
Apologizing for a mistake can often be a very responsible way of handling a problem. That is, of course, if you reference the mistake. If you don't, the email may come off as random and confusing, because the person receiving it may have already moved on to something else. In that case, the apology could trigger a bigger problem. Succinctly reference the mistake, and then apologize.
10) Sending an email before it is finished
This can result in a multitude of problems: wrong recipient, incomplete sentences, misspelled words, etc. The best way to avoid this is to not fill out the recipient address until you're email is complete. Don't worry: If you accidentally click Send before inserting the address, you'll be prompted to input the address.