Posts in writing skills

Why is Your Email Writing Style Important?

In social media, we are used to back and forth chat pattern. However, email is different. It is a planned and comprehensive professional message that others expect at the workplace.

This is not like planning a party with friends where there can be back and forth messages. When you are writing to people you do not know well, you need to share context.

Your colleagues want the item in their inbox and do not want to check with you on what you mean by something. You have got to get it right the first time. This says a lot about your writing style. Are you writing like a professional or newcomer?

70-80% of workplace mistakes are due to miscommunication.

Tip: Avoid informal words and emojis.

If you are texting or writing on Facebook or Instagram, it is okay to use emojis, abbreviations such as LOL, informal salutations such as Ciao, Hey, TC, etc. or non-standard punctuation such as I am doing great!! You are saying… Why??

But, in business communication it is not appropriate to use these informal words and abbreviations.

Using linguistic shortcuts are perceived as friendly intimacy, like sharing a dessert with a close friend.

If you got too intimate on a first date or a first meeting with a colleague you would come across as over friendly, casual, and less appropriate.

In the same way, do not use informal language in writing emails. Always know who your audience is and write accordingly.

Let us look at an email example.

Re: Monthly AR Report for July 2020

Hey Janny,

I have checked the data in the main sheet. For ur ref the new data as of July 2020 is pasted in the AR sheet, but other tabs are not updated. Will update shortly. Pls let me know if this is okay??

Tc!

Robert

What is the writer’s style?

Even though it is a noticeably short email, it comes across as informal. It sounds like Janny is Robert’s buddy rather than business colleague.

What makes Robert’s email look informal?

  1. Used informal words such as ur. Also, pls (please) should have been written out completely. Makes the person look less caring and polished.

However, AR for Accounts Receivable and Ref (Referral) could be an internal term used frequently in the department and understood by all. In those cases, it is okay to use internal team acronyms.

  1. The writer should make sure the email recipient’s name is spelled correctly. Janny might be Jenny or Jennifer, a very common name. People are very offended when their name is misspelled. Makes you look careless and insensitive.
  2. Hey, is considered too informal in the opening salutation. The writer could have said “Hi Janny” or “Dear Janny” depending on the culture. “Hello Janny,” would also have not been appropriate as in many cultures it is considered shouting, as if the person is not listening to you.

If you are writing to many people you could say Hi All, Hi Everyone, Hi Participants, Dear Team, etc.

  1. The line “Will let you know shortly,” should have a date when the sender will get back. This will give better clarity to his message.

  1. Should you send an email where “other tabs are not updated’’? No, you are making the recipient work. The other sheets could be deleted. Take the extra step to make yourself and your personal brand look more formal rather than casual. And you are showing that you care about the recipient’s time.
  2. The sentence “Please let me know if this is okay??” exaggerates the question mark and makes the writer look impatient and anxious to know an answer. Never make the mistake of adding more than one question mark at the end of the question.
  3. In the above line, the writer will wait for the reader to respond with an answer if this is okay. This can lead to a lot of back and forth and prevents the writer from immediately acting. Instead, we suggest you write it as, “If you want any changes, let me know.” This way, you can move ahead and if you do not hear from the reader it doesn’t matter. Ball is in the reader’s court.
  4. Using “!!!” sounds over excited. …. is informal conversation and something you want to avoid. Either way, punctuation beyond one exclamation, one question mark or one full stop/period looks less professional. It can be used in social media and texting friends but not in business.
  5. Tc! At the close, this means overexcitedly Take care. This type of salutation is more appropriate for a personal email than work.

In business, you want to use one of the following salutations in your closing.

Regards

Warm regards

Warmest regards

Sincerely

Sincerely yours

This should be followed by your full name and comma.

Use an auto signature. It makes you look organized, time conscious and customer centric. This also saves you valuable time when you are writing an email. If a person needs to reach you, he/she knows exactly where to get in touch with you.

Your auto signature should be no more than 5 lines with the company name, address, your title, and a telephone number where you can be reached.  Avoid flashy animations and gifs at the end of your email. Also, avoid adding any additional messages to your email because it increases the length.

Let us see how Robert’s email could have been written better.

Re: Monthly AR Report for March 2020

Hi Jenny,

I have checked and updated the AR data in the main sheet till July 31, 2020. Will update you by August 13 with pending details. Please let me know if you want something else.

Regards,

Robert Jefferson

Account Receivable Associate

Finstar Systems

501 Almond Lane, Santa Clara, California 95053

669-219-9060

The body of the email has reduced by 9 words (21%). Now it sounds clearer and the writing style looks more formal and has a better choice of words.

Here we have another email from a doctor.

Re: ENDOSCOPY FOR PEPTIC ULCER OF ESOPHAGUS

HI JOE,

I HAVE REVIEWED YOUR REPORT AND BELIEVE THAT YOU HAVE DEVELOPED FOOD PIPE ULCERS.

You should take Razo-L tablets twice per day for 15 days. See me after that.

Dr. Minto

What do you think of this doctor’s email?

I thought this doctor was shouting at me and needed to work on his patient skills. This kind of message reflects badly on both the hospital brand and doctor’s image. Patients may shy away from using this doctor.

The only time in an email, that a person should use capital letters is for a topic heading. But even then, it is not required, underline or bold or a different font color can also highlight it.

Even, the subject line feels like Dr. Minto is angry. A subject line should have no more than 1-2 entire capitalized words like a Purchase Order (P.O) number of some other internal reference number.

You put your thumbprint on your work. You want it to reflect your best self.

Go to kWurd.com evaluate your email writing style so that you sound like a professional and not an amateur.

Why writing skills are nonnegotiable to climb the corporate ladder?

At work you will spend ~50% of your time on email. You could be giving status updates or responding to queries or making announcements or asking for help. Emails are of different types. However, each one is addressing a critical stakeholder between your team member, to seniors, peers, customers, or vendors.

Every email interaction is a moment of truth. It leaves an impression on the reader about you. While by design your managers emails will always come first, you always prioritize emails from some people over the others. And why do you think that happens?

Research says that through the written word we create visual images of people. And this happens subconsciously.

Below are some email examples along with the image:

Re: Missing Monthly Report

Hi Cathy,

I am annoyed that you have not sent the monthly report on-time. This is the third time it is late in the last six months. This is not acceptable! When will you get this right? This is a critical report. I have already given you feedback, and I am still facing the same mistakes. I must have this report immediately!!

Regards.
Clara

The above mail re written like this creates a completely different image in the head:

Re: Missing Monthly Report

Hi Cathy,

I was supposed to receive the monthly report by today. This is the third time it has been late in the last six months. The impact is that we are not able to take important financial decisions.

I look forward to receiving it by the end of day. Feel free to reach out to me for any help that you need.

Regards,
Clara

See how different the 2 set of images are! The thing with first impressions is they last. Now every time your name will appear in the mailbox the image will by default set in. Hence it is important you treat each email as an important touch point and an opportunity to build your brand.

If I perceive you to be an aggressive angry person than you are going to be the last email I open. I do not want to start my workday by communicating with someone unpleasant. Now this has cascading effect on your ability to deliver to your goals. If your emails are not going to be read and acted upon on priority its going to cause delays. And since these delays will be out of your control it will make you feel irritated and frustrated. Hence you will write follow up emails which will be a little aggressive and in the your mind you are just being fair and only following up but in the recipient’s mind now he sees you to be a bigger monster as you appear angrier to him.

From there on its essentially a downward spiral.

 

While creating and angry and aggressive image through your writing is one extreme the other is coming across as a person who plays the victim, or always when and is very passive.

Let us look at this email:

Hi Tom,

I really wanted to let you know that I think I am not going to be able to complete this task. Can you please help me here? I feel terrible as I know it puts you in a tough spot, but you know; you know me how things are. Let me know what to do.

Regards,
Sunil Chopra

Creating a visual image of yourself like this is also not desirable. You do not want to be seen as a weak person who is helpless and in distress.

If you want to be climbing the corporate ladder you need to be a leader. Leaders are confident, assertive empathetic, positive, and decisive.

Some of the other things that will make your communication as a leader amazingly effective are:

  • Fast response times. Do not sit on your emails. If you do not have an answer respond saying you do not know etc. but do not ignore emails.
  • Send less emails to receive less emails. This is a golden rule. The lesser emails you write the lesser is the chain of emails that rise due to which you receive lesser emails. Choose your mode of communication carefully. Something that will help you improve your productivity as well. If a simple phone call can do the job avoid email.
  • Write brief short emails. Crisp clear and concise writing makes your writing immensely powerful.
  • Say no to being copied on emails. Coach your direct team and one level below on what you want to be copied on and what you do not want to be copied. Limit as much as possible the number of people marked on the email to only critical topics. In an escalation case, give feedback to your team on the right timeframes. The more you communicate expectations the better.
  • Is email the right medium? For feedback discussions, customer issues, conflict, difficult conversation, performance review, influencing someone, etc. It is always better to meet face to face or speak over the phone. Set a good example for your team to sort issues out fast rather than batting emails back and forth.

Remember A professionally written email includes seven parts: Communication Style, Clarity, Writing Style, Empathy, Sentiment & Emotion, Spelling & Grammar, and Word Statistics.

  • Communication Style means the feeling the reader gets while reading your email. You could write a noticeably clear and expert email but if the reader feels it is passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive, it hurts your relationship and image with that person. You want your email to be assertive.
  • Clarity means the email is highly readable, crisp, visually appealing, well- structured and has a clear purpose.
  • Writing Style means you followed the correct writing etiquettes. Do you have the right opening and closing? Are there no casual or informal words? All words are spelled correctly and have the right grammar. Is your email sounding like an amateur or a professional?
  • Empathy means how well you understood, appreciated, connected, and respected the reader’s feelings and emotions.
  • Spelling and Grammar means the number of errors that continue to show up you have made in your email. These errors are counted after clicking the analyze button.
  • Sentiment is the feeling the reader gets overall in reading your email. It could be positive, negative, or neutral. Emotion is defined by the type of words that you used. There are five types of text emotion: joy, anger, sadness, disgust, and fear.
  • Word Statistics will tell you how many pet and filler words you had, number of unique words and I statements, sentence length and whether you used data or not.

Getting your email writing skills correct can improve your productivity, relationships and business results and thus contribute to your career growth immensely.

Write with a bang.  Crisply, clearly, and effectively. Go to kwurd.com an AI coach for Emil Writing. It will analyze your emails on all the 7 parameters mentioned above within seconds.

kwurd report