Professional Development for Healthcare Professions Blog

Think before sending emails

Posted by Chad Sines on Wed, Jul 01, 2015 @ 06:00 AM

UnknownEmails have become one of the most prevalent means of communication in today's world, overtaking and outstripping more conventional means for virtually every type of person. Unfortunately emails can often be unclear, causing confusion in things such as the intentions and tone of the sender.

It is very important to ensure your email is conveying the right message before you send it. There are many different ways to do this, including implementation of all of the following helpful tips for writing and proofreading an email:

  • Read the email out loud to yourself: .One very helpful way to critique your own work is after composition is completed. Go back and read the email out loud to yourself. Assess whether it sounds the same as when you read it in your head. This practice serves to bridge the gap between written and spoken language, and can often clear up ambiguities in tone.
  • Try to be as objective as possible: This can prove very difficult because objectivity is not easy by nature, but it can be very critical in email writing. It is important to remember that this person is not right in front of you, and their mind will fill in gaps with their own interpretation of your words. It is therefore important to leave as little to opinion as possible; place yourself in the shoes of the reader, and assess any problem areas. These tend to be where literal meaning is mistaken for sarcasm, and vice versa. 
  • Be as clear and concise as possible: Keep in mind that this is not a verbal conversation, so often your ability to clarify things you may have said is much more limited. This makes it very important to be as clear and concise as you possibly can. Often this can mean explaining yourself fully, rephrasing or paraphrasing yourself a few times, and more importantly writing in an active voice. 
  • Make sure the reader knows you exhausted all other options: This is especially important when asking questions, as it removing many unnecessary follow up emails. For instance, if you were to email a question to someone, a very appropriate answer would be "well, have you tried...". If you have already done this, then your email has just wasted both your time as well as the recipient. Instead, be as direct as you can. When asking questions, it is always best to assure the other person that you tried on your own to solve the issue. Try listing all the options that you have exhausted so they can better direct you with their answer. 

Email is perhaps the most convenient means of modern communication for individuals, businesses, as well as students and educators. Unfortunately too often aspects of traditional verbal communication are lost, making it vital to be as clear as possible in speech. This preserves intent of the email, the tone in which you are speaking, and results in a concise email that is efficient for both parties.