What's your email hygiene score? Image: Thinkstock
Why are emails important? Because where your charismatic personality cannot go, an email can. Picture an email as your entry into a new world, people reading it will get to know you through it. You send out a CV — you have to draft an email cover letter, you want to communicate with a potential client — it's going to happen through email, you want to sell a big idea — you have to start with an email, and hope that in every one of these cases, your email is edgy enough to get the work done.
Yet the all-important email has become so commonplace now that people tend to ignore certain hygiene points. You are drafting about 10 emails a day depending on your type of work — including those little replies — and you've probably gone OTT with the acronyms (see what we did there?).
But don't worry. PFB (more on that below) a list of things to avoid when drafting an email.
Add a proper signature
Let's start from the bottom, shall we? Of course, your username will show up on the recipient's inbox but you still need to add a signature. All email services have the option of adding default signatures — you save it once and it will be added automatically at the end of your body text — but use it cautiously. Adding a company logo is fine as long as it doesn't make the email too heavy. Also, it's an email signature, not your autograph or Tinder bio. Keep it crisp and strictly professional.
PS. Add a phone number, at least your office board line if not your mobile.
Address the person you're writing to
We've all learnt to write official letters in school, but modern day email etiquette is a bit different than that. While 'Dear Sir/Ma'am' was a good start back then, professionals prefer 'Hello' followed by the first name today. This immediately establishes a personal connection. Sir or Madam have a colonial hangover and Indian offices are consciously trying to do away with that. Weigh in.
Go easy on the acronyms
Acronyms are an epidemic and everyone is using them. While you may feel they make you look cool and well-versed in office lingo, they are annoying and, sometimes, rude. For example, adding PFA (please find attached) in a cover letter is redundant because obviously, you've attached your CV, that was the whole point of the letter. And stating the obvious implies you feel the recipient is a fool. EOD (end of day) may be okay if it's an informal exchange or when you know the recipient personally, but DYKs (did you know), FYIs (for your information), TBHs (to be honest) are a strict no-no.
Don't turn your email into a scrapbook
In the desperation to stand out, don't get into weird fonts, colours and text sizes. The colour of your text should be basic (black) and shouldn't be bold, italics or underlined, or in all caps unless it's relevant. Bullet points are a good way to draw attention to key elements, but keep them bullets simple dots or squares, nothing avant-garde. Your email body should be set to small or medium text size, not large or extra-large, you don't want your email to shout out at your recipient.
Get the tone of your email right
So, you have a request, but make sure your email reads like a request and not like begging. Being overtly apologetic shows lack of confidence, not how polite you are. Similarly, when asking for something to be done, make it pithy but not rude. Statistically speaking, only 56 per cent people get their email tonality right, and that's terrible. Make sure you're not in the other lot.
(With inputs from Semantee Mukherjee, HR Talent Acquisition, LinkedIn)