How not to suck at writing email

I was interviewed recently about my thoughts on email etiquette. Having started my career in customer service, I can be quite particular about such things. And cringes everytime I see someone make such mistakes. Granted most of these occur in recent graduates who text more than they email, there is also a handful of seasoned employees that can’t write a decent email (and continue to wonder why no one reply to it.

Here are my answers to those email etiquette questions. I hope some of them resonate and you can look at ways to improve them.

1. What are some email etiquette mistakes people frequently make?

Some of the common mistakes would be missing/unpro salutation, unclear or missing subject, unprofessional email addresses ([email protected] anyone?), replying to all even if there is no need to, too many exclamation and capitalization, trying to be humorous (prone to mis-interpretation), reply to emails that you are cc or bcc on, forward emails in entirety to another without permission and missing email signature (how do they get in touch if they want to reach you quick?)

2. What should one bear in mind when writing emails?

In a world of constant distraction, people do not have time to even read a magazine. Let alone a long-winded email that one can simply delete away. As Mark Twain mentioned before “I don’t have time to write a short letter so I wrote a long one”, getting clarity right is important. That means to always summarize your content and ensure the point is clearly articulated across before hitting the send button.

Also note account that people from different cultures and countries may write differently so don’t misinterpret wrongly.

3. How can one be friendly yet professional in emails?

Ensure mistakes from point 1 are not present but do not template them. Authenticity are equally important.

4. What is the hallmark of a great email?

Clear, concise with obvious indication of call-for-action (if any).

5. What is one thing people fail to realise about emails?

That recipients receive hundreds of them per day. If subject header and content are not properly optimized, it can easily go straight to the deleted items.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.