The 3 Cardinal Rules of Effective Email Communication

The average businessperson reads and composes more than 120 emails every day, but there is an overwhelming amount of business emails that seem to be written with no apparent regard for the reader. A massive chunk of people’s workdays is wasted wading through irrelevant, unclear, or incomprehensible messages. To remedy this issue, it’s vital to understand the keys to effective online communication, both to stem the tide of annoying and unnecessary emails and to protect your reputation as a professional. Here are three rules for effective email communication.

1. Tighten it up.

When your message is sitting in an inbox packed with dozens of others, it’s essential to respect your reader’s time. Make the contents of the message clear from a glance at the subject line. Your subject line is what will draw the attention of the recipient — or lead them to skip over it altogether — so be specific and relevant.

In the body of the email, your reason for emailing, as well as all the important points, should be immediately clear. Keep it as concise and as transparent as possible.

2. Write like a human being.

Many professionals assume that the need for brevity means they can get away with short, robotic missives. Managers are especially guilty of this, sending out single-sentence messages in all lowercase letters with nary an emotion.

We get it; you’re busy. But it’s worth taking an extra moment of your time to craft an email that carries the human element as well. It’s important to take a professional tone and to keep communication brief, but you can still write, to some degree, like you talk. This will show recipients that you take communicating with them seriously.

3. For the love of all that is holy, reply to the emails you receive.

Again, you’re busy, and you’ve got to prioritize your work, but consistently ignoring emails is a clear sign of negligence and will make you unpopular among your coworkers. If you don’t have time to think of a clear answer, a simple confirmation that you received the message goes a long way. While you can safely ignore all those company wide filler emails you receive each week, you need to show your coworkers and contacts that you’re willing to put in a little effort and that you’re on top of your responsibilities.