Email research says proofread your emails
The Email Research-scary statistics
The majority of email senders and email receivers believe that their email information is interpreted correctly. In fact, only half of emails received are interpreted correctly and half of email recipients have a lot of trouble interpreting emotion in emails[i].
There is a suggestion that this overconfidence in emails links to a difficulty detaching oneself from your own environment. This theory is supported by the rapid emergence of social media where the communication is fast, “off the cuff” and not always thoughtful. Furthermore, three quarters of email is opened within 6 seconds of its arrival in the Inbox and there is a significant recovery time for the worker to return to their previous task because the email task is prioritised over the planned task[ii]
Email Research says it impacts on business
It appears that emails influence business life in multiple ways. They increase the workload; affect the prioritisation of task completion and impact on staff stress levels. It seems timely to review email etiquette and workplace email communication strategies.
Interaction and communication on a personal level is complex and part of a process that is negotiated between two people depending on the level of their interpersonal skills.
In email communication and interaction, these process communication tools are not present and so the written word is the sole communicator. Attitude, personality and intent are expressed in emails in tone and voice. A poorly written email immediately sets a bad tone and projects attitude. Some examples include poor grammar and punctuation, jargon or cumbersome works, discriminatory language or unclear language that allows assumptions. Non-business typology speaks loudly of unprofessionalism and includes blocks of bold or italic font, stylised fonts, no capitals or overuse of capitals.
Review of email etiquette
It is important to remember that emails are a business format and therefore require infrastructure with titles, a clear sense of purpose and a length of no more than two paragraphs. The subject description should be precise and match the content in the email and this content should be clear in the opening sentence of the email. Avoid burying an ‘unfavourable’ message in the middle or end of the email, as this only tends to aggravate a reader.
Tone should be conversational, polite, respectful, approachable, and written from the viewpoint of the company. Curt and demanding tones are not helpful and sometimes, just changing one word can alter the tone of the email.
Tone management strategies
A useful way to monitor email tone is to email yourself. You can then proofread it. The rules of proofreading are simple.
- Put some distance between yourself and the email.
- Read the text aloud or get someone to read it to you.
- Consider each sentence separately.
- Remember the basic rules of grammar and punctuation.
- Check spelling using a dictionary and do not rely on spell check.
- Listen to the voice and tone of the email and consider the choice of words.
Some useful email management strategies could include turning off email alert sounds, allocating certain times of the day to check emails or set your email application to display in the inbox with the sender and subject, so you can determine urgent issues. Do not respond immediately to emails, but prioritise the required work of the email into your jobs list. Reduce your response emails by considering if the sender is expecting a response. Restrict a response to a group email to the person directly involved and not to the group.
Email communications-Proofread them
Email communication is here to stay. Proofreading of workplace emails has to be a useful strategy to not only enhance communication but also improve workplace productivity. Take note of the email research. It means your business.
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[i][i] Kruger, J., Epley, N., Parker, J., & Ng, Z. (2005). Egocentrism over email: Can we communicate as well as we think? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89.
[ii] Jackson,T., Dawson,T., Wilson, D., 2002. Case study: evaluating the effect of email interruptions within the workplace. IN: Conference on Empirical Assessment in Software engineering, Keele University, EASE 2002, UK, April 2002, pp.3-7.