You know how important your image is – which is why you take care to use a profile picture that shows you in the way you want. You don’t need me to point out that wearing your lockdown pyjamas in a work Zoom meeting is not ideal.

The question is: do your messages profile you in the same, positive way?

Take spelling: we generally don’t notice good spelling, but poor spelling can grate on us. Similarly, we won’t notice an email style that chimes with us – but we will notice one that puts our backs up.

As an example, what do you think of the person who wrote this?

The answers that typically come out in our email masterclasses (or at least the printable ones) include: hopeless, hapless, twit, careless, stupid and sloppy – the unsuccessful seven dwarves.

How would it be instead to produce reactions like: professional, friendly, clear-thinking, smart, on-the-ball?

To start eliciting these more positive reactions we need to understand two principles.

Firstly, there’s no one correct way to write an email.

There are no objective standards we have all been taught (as we may have been taught about business letters). Effectively, we’ve just made up how we think it should be done and we think the way we have made it up is clearly the right way – and if you don’t do it the same as me, you’re obviously doing it wrong.

For example, what’s the best way to start an email: Dear, Hi, Name, Yo – or maybe nothing at all because you don’t have the time to use salutations?

Those salutations are all correct – but they’re also all potentially incorrect. It would be just as wrong for me to write to an important client, starting “Hey Chris, how’s it going?” as it would for me to write to my nephew, “Dear Rosco. Further to your email of last Thursday…” so you need to match your greeting to the other person’s expectations.

The second principle is that email is very restricted as a communications medium.

People often write emails with a tone of voice in their head. We think we’re making an ironic comment because we have an ironic voice in our head as we type. However, that voice doesn’t get sent as an attachment, so what arrives can be read as a sarcastic, aggressive or even an ignorant comment.

Once you understand these principles, you can step into the other person’s shoes and aim to understand how they will perceive your message – and then tweak the different parts of the email to achieve the result you want.

Sounds good? New Order Working (promo HERE and tasters HERE) lets you have a digest of how to write great emails, plus your free e-book with 150+ techniques that professionals are using to: save time, declutter your inbox, slash unnecessary CCs and come across like the professional you are.

You wouldn’t wear your pyjamas to a business Zoom, so shouldn’t all your messaging be as professional?

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