writing tips

Top 4 Tips for Professional Email Communication

Man engaging in professional email communication on laptops
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

Email has become one of the primary methods of communication for business professionals. If you’re anything like me, you would rather send an email than make a phone call any day. Since email is so important to professional life, it only makes sense that you should be aware of email best practices. Here are some tips to help you elevate your emails, polish your professionalism, and become emperor (or empress) of your inbox.

Write a Clear Subject Line

Whether or not someone opens an email is based on two things: who the send is and what the subject line says. Your subject line should:

  • Be succinct and clear. Don’t choose a wordy subject line, and be sure it’s easy to understand.
  • Be true to what the email is about. If the email touches on several topics, mention the most important or relevant one in the subject line.
  • Be specific. Writing an email to your boss with a subject line that simply says, “Work” is both lazy and ineffective. After all, if you are writing to your boss, he or she is already going to assume that you are reaching out about work, not about the soiree you want to invite him or her to over the weekend.

Use a Proper Greeting

There are several different appropriate ways in which to open a professional email. For example, you can start with:

  • Dear [Name]. Be selective about using this one. Although it’s the standard opener for letters of all sorts, some people might think it’s a little too affectionate.
  • To whom it my concern. This is suited for situations when you do not know exactly whom will be reading your email.
  • Hello [name]. This is a bit on the informal side, but in most cases, it’s perfectly fine to use it with coworkers or even with people you don’t know.
  • Greetings. This is neither too formal nor too informal, neither too familiar nor too generic. It works well for emails that are going to multiple people.

Use Correct English

If you are sending an email to a friend, they won’t care if you use common text message language. For example, they won’t think twice if you use “U” instead of “you” or write things like SMH. In a professional setting, however, you should lean toward proper English. Don’t take shortcuts, don’t use a lot of slang, and make sure that your wording conveys respect for the recipient’s position.

Before you hit the send button, proofread your email to make sure it conveys your message clearly and doesn’t contain any embarrassing typos. A proofreading tool like Grammarly can help with this, but you must be careful with automated proofreaders. The often miss mistakes, and some of the corrections they suggest are not really corrections at all.

Be Nice

There is no such thing as a truly private email. Once your message gets to your recipient, they are free to share it with whomever they want. That’s the second-most important reason why your emails should always be polite. (The most important reason, of course, is that you are a decent human being and don’t want an emotional flare-up to ruin your reputation as such.)

Even if you are irate with a coworker because they are producing poor-quality work, slacking off, or falling behind, resist the urge to browbeat them via email. You can be firm, of course, but you should never use curse words and never insult the recipient. In fact, if possible, you might skip the email altogether. Why not personally check on your coworker or give them a call?

What are your top tips for professional email communication? Let me know in the comments!

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