5 Easily Avoidable Email Mistakes

May 16, 2018 | 212 Articles, Communication, Customer Service, Customers, Inbound Marketing

When you talk to someone in person, you can convey your tone and mood. Your body language and facial expressions provide key clues about how you’re feeling. When you use email, however, these clues go out the window. Your text-only message can be misunderstood if you aren’t careful.

Take a look at these easily avoidable email mistakes:

Overusing CC and “Reply All”
These are two of the most overused email practices—and they shouldn’t be. Here are a couple tips for knowing when to CC and reply all:

  • CC: Imagine you’re in a physical meeting. Would it be necessary to have more people in the meeting than just your email’s recipient? If the answer is no, it isn’t worth your time (or theirs) to CC them.
  • Reply All: When it comes to replying all, consider whether your response is pertinent to the whole group. Is your boss planning a team meeting? If so, everyone may need to reply with their schedules. But if someone is just passing along information, you don’t need to respond to the entire group to confirm that you received the message.

Using the “URGENT” Subject Line
Labeling an email as “URGENT” sounds desperate, if not rude. If the information is that critical, then a phone call is more appropriate. If a phone call isn’t necessary, then neither is an “URGENT” subject line.

Ask yourself why people need to read it. For example, if you’ve made changes to an important schedule, you want your recipients to see those before the meeting. Communicate that in the subject line by saying, “Schedule Changes for Monday’s Meeting.”

Being Too Negative
Because email doesn’t allow you to properly convey your tone, even constructive criticism can come across exceptionally negative. Avoid using words like “don’t,” “won’t,” “can’t,” or “shouldn’t.” “Never” and “always” can be especially accusatory. Instead, focus on conveying the same information positively. Use phrases like, “Please change…” or “Going forward, will you adjust…” to get people to do things differently. If you can’t spin something positively, then an email isn’t the best place for the conversation.

Responding Too Briefly
Short responses are often interpreted as careless or indifferent. When you reply to an email by simply saying, “Okay” or “That’s fine,” you don’t allow much room for your recipient to understand your tone. Instead of giving short one- or two-word responses in your emails, offer explanations. Even something as simple as, “I like that idea. Let’s try that and see if it works,” will go a long way. And remember that a word of thanks will never hurt.

Being Impersonal
It’s easy to get right down to business in emails without thinking about formalities such as greetings or well wishes. However, when you meet someone in person, you don’t jump in to graphs and charts without saying hello first. Emails should be the same. Take time to greet your recipient; it will make a difference in how you present yourself and how your recipient perceives your message.

Finally, when you’ve finished writing an important email, save it as a draft and move on to something else. After an hour, come back to it with fresh eyes and a fresh mind. You don’t want to send an email without thinking it through—because you can’t take it back once it’s gone. Writing an email that reflects your in-person mannerisms and clearly conveys your intended message is a challenge. If you don’t master it, you’ll end up causing more damage than you realize.

What’s your experience with email etiquette? Are there any hints or tips missing from this list? Let us know what you think!





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