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E-specially E-ssential (and Often Overlooked)

Your Emails Say a Lot About You

“Just send them a quick email.” Your boss has tasked you with communicating important workplace information, perhaps to a potential client or Board member. Yep, it’s “just an email,” but writer beware: how you communicate and express yourself through email matters. A lot. Tone, organization, grammar, length, and succinctness all count, and, fair or not, we are judged by our command of the English language, along with judgment exercised in content and audience. And once it’s out there electronically, there’s no getting it back. 

Of course, email isn’t just for the workplace. Our electronic correspondence recipient list can include friends, family, potential employers, school boards, businesses, long lost loves…the list is too long to list. You want to ensure you’re making the intended impression, and choosing your words carefully…often while under stress to do it quickly…is mission critical. 

Let’s talk tone. Who’s your audience? What’s the occasion for writing?  Emailing your best friend about weekend plans is a world away from emailing your entire staff, a professional contact, or a high-level company executive about a critical or sensitive matter, and you want to proceed accordingly. LOLs and WTHs are fine for friends, but including “textage” in an email to any one individual or group is risky at best, and generally not a good idea. You need to be judicious and strategic. The longer and more diverse your recipient list, the more flexible and sensitive you’ll need to be to address everyone succinctly, respectfully, and comprehensively.

Along with performing in a job, looking for a job entails email–it’s effectively your calling card during a job search. It introduces you to potential employers, and these days is often the format for the cover letter itself. Your first impression and best foot forward begin with the email, not the attachments. You don’t want to rush this kind of email–instead, you want to double and triple check for errors, potentially offensive language or tone, and overall organization. After all, this is the gateway to a possible amazing job. You want to make sure your calling card is on point. 

More on the subject of casting out a net of words you can’t take back. Your email is your trademark–perhaps one of many emails, but they all add up to how you’re presenting yourself to others and the world. Before you fire off that letter to the editor, a reprimand to a staff member, or complaint to your child’s school or a local business, consider the overall impression you may be making (and whether you should be sending that email in the first place). Walk away and clear your head for a bit and reread it later. We live in a time when our electronic impression is often our first impression.

There are endless considerations when it comes to electronic communication. Email is a welcome convenience, but, in this age of immediacy, it does carry some risk. If you’re unsure of how you come across in email, or want to touch up your electronic expression skills on the whole, shoot me an email. LOL.  

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