Writing this post seems like deja vu to me but I can’t seem to find any previous post that addressed this topic.  A similar post is Hold your Horses- Reality Funnier than a Joke since it discusses a pretty annoying email I received a while back but this contains other issues.

So this is what happened today: I received an email from, let’s say a work colleague who I’m not so keen about, requesting some missing documents to finalize some issue being cleared with a governmental agency.  Fair enough.  The problem is I received the email directly after I was given the bunch of papers requesting the same documents penciled in on the top page.  Now firstly, if you are requesting something, give the person time to get it done; I would not be able to handle your request from the ground floor till the second floor, it’s impossible!  You see, the issue wasn’t that I was asked more than once, the issue was with the timing of both requests.

The cringe factor while reading the email came up when I SAW THE EMAIL WRITTEN IN CAPS.  WHY?  Why would you request something from someone, anyone, in caps?  I felt like the person who sent the email was sitting behind her desk throwing a tantrum.  The email was basically as follows:


Dear Ms. Bedoor,

Please check the list of missing papers we need.  Thank you.

3- XXX
4- YYY

When I first read the subject line, I thought that the MISSING PAPERS were urgent and couldn’t wait.  It only occurred to me later on that it was the last day before the weekend which means that nothing can be done until after, so why bother jumping through hoops for something that can easily be obtained and also postponed.

I did just that.

For people who work with emails, please note the following tips that could help your emails be more professional:

1- Enter a thought of subject in the subject line.  You want to introduce the recipient with the topic of your email

2-Use the correct name of the person you are addressing.  Make sure the spelling is correct and you know the gender (Mr. or Ms.).  I received an email from Turkey, I think, and the lady was clear enough to sign her name with a Ms. in the end to inform me that she is a lady since their names were unfamiliar to us.  I thought it was a smart move, it makes dealings more realistic.

3- Use a simple greeting and ask about the person on at least wish them well.  Yes, this is merely diplomatic but we need to give our emails a bit of a human touch.

4- Be clear and precise about what you are communicating.  Make sure your words are not misunderstood by using simple and straight forward sentences.  Keep your sentences short especially if you are dealing with people who don’t have English as a first language.  If possible, use the recipient’s first language to communicate.

5- Do not give extra information.  The more information you give, the longer the email gets and your point gets lost.  They don’t need to know about the new taxation rules your country is enforcing because it doesn’t matter.  When proofreading, think of every single sentence and how it adds/takes away from the value of your email.

6- Have a call for action.  You are sending the email because you want something to be done, what is it.  Ask clearly.  Use sentences such as, “based on the above, please…” and “Therefore, we would appreciate if you…”

7- Stay formal.  The email you are sending is for business communication, make sure it stays as such.  Do not use emoticons (I really feel like I wrote about this!), do not use slang words, and do not use acronyms such as “btw” and “lol”.

8- Proofread.  proofread your email to make sure it contains all the points you wanted to address and you do not have any excess fat.

9- Fill in the correct email address.  I prefer to add the email address after making sure it’s ready to be sent.

10- Close with a thank you and best regards.  Make sure your signature contains the correct information.

10- Do not use caps and expect your email to be regarded positively.