I am not the universe’s authority of the professional e-mail guidelines, but I do write and receive e-mails everyday, and to say the least, some e-mails are definitely more effective than others in the professional sense. In this blog I will examine some badly written e-mails and how suggest how they can be better.
There is a very good chance that I am one of the very few people who get bothered by seeing e-mails being signed off with this specific salutation. I think it bothers me because: 1. Extremely few people actually say this in real life in North America. 2. Honestly I don’t get bothered by this if the correspondence is friendly and fun. However if it is a professional e-mail especially with people whom I have never worked with before, it seems presumptuous of our professional relationship which is yet to be established, and also seems to install an uncomfortable hierarchy. When I see “Cheers,” I read, “I am aware that this is a business e-mail but I am cool with us being cool about it even though this is about business and that is just the cool kind of person that I am, dude.” I understand this comes from a good place, but being professional is okay, and often preferred by many in professional settings. There is a time and a place for everything.
Instead of “Cheers,” I think “Sincerely,” “Thank you,” “Best,” can be tasteful depending on the context. If you don’t like any of these alternatives, just your name is fine.
To contradict what I said about “extremely few people actually say(ing) this in real life,” one must realize writing is definitely not the same as talking. Even the most natural story-authors do not talk in real life in the same way as they express speech in their own writing. I never speak in real life in the way I write my blogs. It is important to first realize that speech and writing are not the same. Then one must understand all of the possibilities of what their words can mean to others. I believe “…” is often used to negate the possibility of sounding (passive) aggressive and cold. This thinking is understandable especially if the correspondence is done between two people that have never actually interacted in real life and may never will. Perhaps a rare “…” is okay, but I am definitely turned off by many of these in one e-mail, or worse, every e-mail.
Please take the time to read over your e-mail, put the sentences in order to form coherent thought in your writing.
I get these mainly from people who are in charge of gigs or events of sorts, when they really want to drill certain pieces of information into your skimming and lazy brains. I am definitely guilty of being on the both sides of the scenario. However, please be creative and come with some alternatives. Trust that your readers will read your e-mail all the way through and obtain the essential information. In fact, I will talk about an effective alternative to this method of writing a memorable e-mail in the next part.
e-mails that are too long and definitely need to be shortened, however they do contain some very important details so they just end up being very long because the author feels that that is the best way. The author is very busy and feels strongly about the points they are trying to deliver to their reader so the length is justified.
Yes, I know sometimes e-mails have to be long. But they can always be shortened. And often, they have to be shortened in order to be read and processed 100%. Again, it is a good idea to proof-read and delete all the words that your writing can do without. Yes, conversely, sometimes you can end up sounding like a cold asshole. Sometimes you do need to add some convincing words here and there to make your tone not so robotic or vile.
Again, avoid stream of consciousness in your writing if you can. Try to be as objective as possible (not too emotional). Some things can be saved for real life conversations.
In the end, all the things I wrote about has its time and place. But like most things, they have to be done tastefully and they shine in moderate/ controlled doses.