- Ensure the subject line states what the email is about.
- Never use the subject line to convey the message.
- Only communicate one thing in an email, anything more complicated requires a different form.
- Remember that the receiver needs to understand the context of the message, so ensure it is clearly expressed.
- Use numbers rather than words to convey quantitative issues (sales are up 35%, not sales are up substantially) to ensure understanding
- Keep it as short as possible
- Never send an email with emotional content immediately, leave it in draft form until tomorrow, to prevent regrets.
Yesterday I received a number of communications, by various means that broke all the accepted rules of grammar, spelling, and what an old fogey like me considers common courtesy, and it got me thinking.
Email, phone text, and now twitter and its ilk have had an adverse impact on our more traditional skill of communicating via the (pen and paper) written word. The substitute is a shorthand that breaks the basic rules of grammar, construction of sentences and paragraphs that evolved to clearly and unambiguously convey a thought.
And why is it that courtesy that we would normally be extend in a face to face encounter is ignored in an “e-exchange”?. The “e-shorthand” may work in the group where the jargon is understood, but often not in a wider context.
The use of electronic communication and its potential for misunderstanding due to the use of e-shorthand is now central to the way our communication works, so rather than trying to buck the trend, I concocted a few rules that may make email more receiver friendly, unambiguous, and easy to read for the non speakers of any particular jargon.