Habits of Highly Effective Email Communicators
last two weeks have been an interesting reminder for me that communicating
by email can be not only hazardous to your computer's health, but also a
liability for YOU professionally if you don't pay attention to basic
courtesies. Since email is here to stay and for many executives, business
leaders and professionals email is the first impression you will make, I am
offering some sage advice for how to "show up" in cyberspace in a
way that earns the attention and respect of your email recipient. Here are
my 7 Habits of Highly Effective Email Communicators:
something meaningful in the subject line. Corollary: Don't
leave the subject line blank. In order to distinguish yourself from junk
and infectious communiqués, write a short message in the subject line
that clearly states the purpose of your email. Here are some
like you discuss your quality project"
in your services"
up on our meeting last week"
myself per colleague Steve Lopez"
proper grammar and punctuation in the body of your message.
Even brief messages should contain complete sentences. also, if you
write sentences without proper capitalization or grammar, then i think
you don't care enough about me to bother or maybe i think you are too
clumsy to use a computer or what. AND DON'T CAPITALIZE ALL YOUR
LETTERS, BECAUSE THEN I THINK YOU ARE YELLING AT ME.
to the point early. If you are writing to communicate
something specific, say it within the first three sentences of your
email. Corollary: Use only one sentence to state your point.
you meet with me for coffee or lunch?"
want to enroll in your seminar"
want more information about the project before I make a
presentation inspired me to make changes in my practice"
request that we change the date of the meeting."
your messages discreet. Be careful not to share confidential,
private or potentially damaging information through email. If you
have something sensitive---business or personal---to say to anyone, do
so by phone or in person. You can use email to request a meeting,
but don't lay out your case via email. You risk both being
misinterpreted and setting yourself up for potential liability.
respectful of people's time and expertise. If you are
inquiring about professional services such as legal advice, financial
planning, consulting, coaching, professional advice or counseling,
refrain from asking or expecting "email advice" or an
"email breakdown of fees." This signals to any
professional that you aren't serious enough about your own situation to
write a respectful letter (email) of inquiry. Here are a few
examples of one-line cryptic emails I have received in the past:
are your fees?"
I go any further, please answer this question . . ."
do you think the options are . . ?"
respectful letter of inquiry follows this template:
[Mr., Ms. Dr.]______
heard about you from ____
is who I am:]__________
may be interested in using your services
this is my situation:______
adding people to your "special mailing list" without their
specific request. Ask yourself: Is "there a need to
know" for each of these people? Am I contributing to
someone's inbox clutter? Rather than assume that people want to be
included in your distribution list, ask them to "opt in." That
is, give your "readers" an option to receive or continue
receiving your regular updates, forwards, article links and commentary.
Many colleagues and friends are too nice to tell you they delete your
email as soon as it arrives. Make it easy for them to opt out.
email for quick "congratulations." In our busy lives
we often forget or don't have the time to send a note of appreciation
for a job well done. Everyone loves acknowledgement and email is a
great way to send a quick "Great job on the presentation!" or
"Your article was very informative. Thank you!" or
"I read about your award. Congratulations!" Not only are
the kudos well received, but you will be well remembered for taking the
R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE is an executive coach and business consultant.
She is president of The Gaillour Group and director of Creative Strategies in Physician
She can be reached at