Internet etiquette can be a touchy subject, and although I don’t consider myself the Miss Manners of the world wide web, I try my best to be courteous with how I act online. Granted, I’m not perfect, and I typically get as much satisfaction as the next guy when someone is proved wrong in online debate (I can actually be quite rude, but when I do, I often come across sounding like a sixth grade bully, which is pitiful). However, one of the big obstacles of Internet etiquette people sometimes struggle with online is sending email.
Email is certainly not a new method of communication, but it’s one Internet staple that seems to have stayed relevant over the years. Unfortunately, many people just don’t do a good job when writing emails. It’s a very odd way to communicate, for it combines the long-form writing style of letters but with the instant feedback element of the online world. With that said, one can likely get pretty anxious when writing emails, and that’s understandable.
Below, we have five tips to help you with that anxiety.
Keep Things Friendly
If there’s anything that used to worry me about email, it was my tone. To remedy this, I decided to simply start establishing a friendly tone in my emails. Starting off with a salutation that includes an exclamation point tends to help. In fact, if you are gifted with the Power of the Funny, add a little bit of humor to the mix. Simply put, if you are worried about your email coming across as being rude, being friendly 100% of the time is the best way to get that out of your head. Too many times emails are overly blunt and emotionless. If only people added a little bit of personality to their words, the world would be a better place.
This truly helps when you are emailing someone you don’t know, and it’s even better if you are dealing with touchy subject matter with someone who you do know. By clearing the table and keeping things kind (without an underlying sense of snarkiness or passive aggressiveness), it should work out. Just don’t over-do it.
Don’t Kiss Up
I’ll be the first to admit that I occasionally find myself kissing up in emails, and I really don’t mean to. As I mentioned before, there’s a fine line of being friendly and being incredibly annoying, and it’s easily crossed. With the written word, it’s much more obvious if you are kissing up. People almost always reread their emails to confirm what has being said, and trust me, your brown-nosing is going to be very clear. Instead, if you are emailing someone of a higher authority, just get their ranking out of your mind. Instead, view them as a person. Trust me, for it actually helps.
Once you realize that you are simply writing another human being, there is no need to kiss up (even if you are doing so subconsciously). Just bear in mind that most every human deserves equal respect. If you treat everyone on the same and with the highest regard, then you won’t have to worry about who you are emailing or what you say. At that point, you can just be considered a respectful person.
Cover Your Bases, But Keep It Simple
I write very lengthy emails, and the purpose for doing so is to make sure I get every bit of information across to the person I’m emailing. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. Instead of writing a novel, just make your point clear. Sure, you can add your personality in the body of the email to serve as a vehicle for your point. However, when it gets down to business, be clear with what you are wanting to say.
I would suggest writing one blunt sentence that says what you need to say, and to ease your mind, go ahead and write another sentence that may describe it. After that, you’re done. Don’t do anything else. At all. Really.
I want you to think about why sending email makes you anxious. Is it because you are afraid of someone saying no? Is it because you are afraid you will be fired? Perhaps you fear you will sound silly? Well, if your answer was yes to these three questions, I say this: you have nothing to lose, it’s their loss if they get rid of you, and you’re already silly for worrying about simply sending an email – get over it.
I know this may sound a bit goofy, but be adventurous with your emails. Embrace the risk of sending a message to someone, not knowing how, when, or if they even will answer. Start thinking of it as a gamble, and it might be a bit more fun. In fact, say outlandish things in your emails. Make outrageous hyperboles and entertaining statements. If anything, make your emails memorable.
Ever written an email in a rush or while your head is distracted by most of life’s typical stressors? It’s always super embarrassing to look back at what you’ve written. Instead, why don’t you just not write emails while you are panicked? Try this.
The next time you sit down to write an email in a flustered mood, sit down and evaluate the situation. Wait a second before you hit the send button, and go browse Reddit or something – get your mind off the email. Come back to it after you have cooled down, and then change anything you want. The recipient can wait a few more minutes on your reply, and it’s worth not having to look at a message where you accidentally poured your heart out, detailing all of your life’s woes.
Let me be clear: there is nothing to worry about when sending an email! Just get in there and do it. You’ll be fine.
What tips do you have for writing emails? Did any of these help you?
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