How Do You Really Sound in Your Emails

For most organisations, email is the most popular form of communication. We send and receive tens, sometimes hundreds, per day, and in most cases, the more we write, the less thought we give to what we are writing.

We might be great communicators, but it’s possible that we don’t always come across how we think we sound in our emails. If we wrote emails in the same way that we communicate verbally, we risk writing emails that are too long and detailed, but to be productive, it’s best to keep emails concise. But there is a fine line between an email that is concise and an email that is just plain rude.

Example A


It’s important that you get that report on my desk by Monday.


Example B

Dear Sara,

Would you mind prioritizing the report so we can send it out on Monday?

Thank you and apologies for the short notice!


Email Etiquette

There is little difference between examples A and B, but it’s easy to see which can be considered as rude and which isn’t.

Having said that, we are all guilty of reading an email from a colleague and asking ourselves ‘what do they mean by that?’ In some circumstances, it can be hard to read someone’s mood without seeing a face or hearing a voice, meaning a lot of emails are misinterpreted.

For this reason, it’s important that written communication reflects our true tone of voice. We don’t need to spend hours composing the perfect email. We just need to remember to use manners as we would in face-to-face conversation, i.e. using please and thank you where possible.

Email Etiquette_Draft

An important rule in email communication is to remember to ask, rather than tell. For example, ‘would you…’ as opposed saying ‘I need this from you…’ And it goes without saying that you need to get the name of the person you are addressing right – that goes for spelling too!

Here is a list of our worst email pet peeves and feel free to share your own with us in the comments below or by tweeting us @thinkproductive

To learn more about how your emails affect others and to avoid those inevitable harsh-sounding emails, check out our website or book one of our email etiquette in-house workshops.

By Emma Gibbins

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