Email Detail We Often Forget
When to Pick up the Phone
I know people who spend forty-five minutes composing an email rather than explain and resolve the issue over the phone in five minutes. If your email is going to weigh in at three or four stout paragraphs, especially if it’s sensitive and might require some explaining, pick up the phone. Or walk down the hall. Remember that people will not judge your speech nearly as harshly as they will your writing.
When to Cut and Paste
For that email that must include a longer document, either attach the document or compose in Word and cut and paste the document into the email. WordRake for Outlook is now available, so you can also compose an email of any length and rake it right in Outlook.
When to Keep It in the Trail
Writing is only part of what we do in email. Almost as important is keeping track of what we write so we and our recipients can find it easily. Unless we have good reason to do otherwise, we should keep all correspondence on the same subject in the same email trail.
When to Use Exclamation Points!
Never! Remember the Seinfeld episode! “The Sniffing Accountant!” Where Elaine’s prospective boyfriend! Fails to use an exclamation point! When he takes a phone message from Elaine’s friend! Who just had a baby!!! Using exclamation points conveys the same level of sophistication as the bank teller whose signature is “Gina” with a heart over the “i.” So think about it!
When to Use Smiley Faces
Whether we write a letter, a book, or an email, our “recipient” must interpret our message by reading only our words: we can’t be there to convey “emotional signals” like facial expressions, voice inflection, and body language. But too often in emails, instead of using the right words, we send an ambassador – the emoticon.
A hundred years ago typewriters had the colon, the semicolon, the dash, and the parentheses, all the tools we need to make a Smiley Face; and the people who composed on those typewriters were as clever as we are; but not one ever put a Smiley Face at the end of a sentence. So why do we do it now?
In a 2014 article in Social Neuroscience, one psychology researcher called emoticons “a sort of visual cliché” and “a lazy means of communicating.”