How to conquer email- Short, but Polite

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This part of the email series I believe is very important especially in today’s age where being polite is not something that is necessarily done.

Emailing is a fast way to communicate and is growing ever more popular each year in this digital age. However, unlike talking over the phone or face to face, this media doesn’t give you the power of facial expressions or tone inflections in helping to communicate your message. So how can you still sound polite and considerate when you are writing a short email?

Greetings that are personal and recognize authority are one of the best ways to start off an email. If you nail this part of your email you will already be ahead of the game. Building goodwill with your contact starts when they see your email in their inbox, so make sure that the opening line says exactly what you want it to. For more information about how to format a greeting see the “How to Conquer Email: The Greeting” portion of this mini-series.

Some other points you can follow to help keep your emails sounding polite are:

  • Keep it short, but use full sentences
    • This communicates that you are aware of your contact’s time, but you know how to write well. Include the most important details, and consider attaching documents if you need to disclose more information.
  • Avoid unnecessary jargon
    • Technical terms have there time and place, but don’t make your contact reach for the dictionary when they read your email. You want to strike a balance between sounding smart in your email and sounding like you are dumbing down your email. For instance, don’t say “from my empirical analysis…”, instead go for something like “based on the data…”.
  • Don’t send too many emails
    • It can be tempting to send multiple emails about the same topic. However, after going back and forth one or two times, consider scheduling a meeting or phone call to dive further into the details you wish to discuss. If a meeting isn’t possible, consider attaching a document with more information.
  • Be prompt in your response
    • A common practice for emailing is to get back to someone within 24-48 hours depending on the urgency of the email. If you are the one to send the first email, it is your responsibility to watch your inbox and send follow-up responses.
    • It is appropriate to include a follow-up timeframe in your email as well. For example, if you send an email that needs a response, but you know your contact is a busy person, you may include that you plan to send another email in two weeks if you haven’t heard anything from them.
  • Proofread!

Grammar and spelling mistakes happen to everyone, but an easy way to show politeness in an email is to watch for these problems and fix them. This helps keep your emails readable and shows your contact that you care about what you are saying

"Politeness costs little and yields much" -Mme. de Lambert.

I found this quote very fitting for this portion of the series and I hope you do to. Next up on the series will be the signature block.

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