5 E-mail Habits That May Send the Wrong Message

March 28, 2013

Could your e-mails be sending the wrong message to your clients or your peers? Forbes recently highlighted e-mail habits that can send the wrong message. Here are five on its list: 

1. Misuse of the subject line: Including the terms “Urgent,” “Action Item,” or “Read Me” in the subject line “presumes her message is more important than any other correspondence you might have received. This perception is that she is over-confident and thinks very little of your time.” The same can be held true for over-using the priority flag on your e-mails to others.

2. EVERYTHING IN CAPS: Typing in caps means you’re trying to stress your message but it’s also the equivalent of screaming at a person but it can come across as “forceful” and “arrogant,” the Forbes article notes. The same holds true for excessive use of punctuation, e.g., using multiple exclamation points. 

3. Following up too quickly: You want to make sure the person received and read your e-mail, so you call or send another e-mail right away to find out. But you’ll send the message as impatient and self-righteous. If you expect that instant of a response, “the more efficient route is to pick up the phone” in the first place. 

4. Auto responses: An auto response to every e-mail you receive may be giving you more time but it also has the potential to send the wrong message. You reassure the receiver that you care about their e-mail but you’ll respond to it at a convenient time to you, which could be viewed as condescending, the Forbes article notes. 

5. Resurrecting an old e-mail chain: The intention may be to help keep the correspondence all in one place and easier for the recipient but you may send the message that you’re “lazy, disorganized, or [have] poor e-mail sorting habits,” the Forbes article notes. Begin a new e-mail chain with a correct subject line for every new issue discussed.

Read all 10 bad e-mail habits at Forbes online. 

Source: “Ten E-mail Habits That Send Wrong Message,” Forbes (March 2013)

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