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Effective communication in the workplace
Effective communication in the workplace

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3.2 Writing effective emails

Emails can be problematic for numerous reasons, many of them highlighted in Activity 3. This can lead to confusion and tension between the sender and the receiver.

There are some rules that will help you reduce that confusion.

  • Ask yourself, would a phone call be quicker and more effective? For example, if you’re having to create a very long email message to explain the context of your question – that could be a good time for a phone call.
  • Subject lines are more important than you might think. Aim to be clear and informative and grab the receiver’s attention much like a newspaper headline. If the topic changes during an email exchange, remember to change the subject line – this will help if you are searching for an email later on.
  • Text should be clear and succinct. It might be easier to send a couple of emails on different subjects, rather than one very lengthy one with numerous topics.
  • Always proofread what you have written to ensure accuracy and avoid some of the problems listed in the previous activity.
  • Check your tone and be polite. For example, using capital letters in an email can add emphasis but can also appear to the receiver as if you are SHOUTING AT THEM!
  • Be mindful about how formal or informal you should be. Some individuals like an informal approach, while others prefer more formality. The use of emoticons should also be considered in the same way.

Another important tactic is to consider how the reader might feel after reading your message. If there’s a chance they may react badly, you could change your tone or arrange a face-to-face conversation to avoid unnecessary tension and confusion.

If someone has sent you an email that has left you annoyed or upset, a top tip is not to respond immediately. Even if you compile a response – do not send it.

By giving yourself some thinking time, you may decide to reword your response, get some advice, or perhaps have a spoken conversation with the sender to resolve any issues.

Another form of written communication in the workplace is the report.