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Unfortunately your mastery of group chats won’t be so relevant when it comes to the workplace. Being able to adapt to the different styles and tones of emails is crucial to making a great first impression and will help you greatly on your path to success. Here are some tips to get you emailing with confidence:
Know your audience
The way you address a potential employer or work colleague is obviously very different to the way you speak to a friend in a private message. With employers, spelling mistakes are a red flag, as are poor structure, excessive length and being too informal.
Try making your message clearer, more concise, and appropriate for your audience. This will ensure that the person reading it gets the message and isn’t distracted from what it is you’re asking or telling them.
Start with a name
Do you know the person by name? Have you met them? It’s always best to address a person by name if you know it.
‘Dear Elisabeth’ would be appropriate for someone you haven’t met or someone more senior, whereas ‘Hi Elisabeth” would be suitable for a familiar contact or a person on your team who you talk to regularly.
Get to the point, but gently
The workplace is a busy environment, and inboxes are often full of emails, so it’s best to make your point or request quickly and concisely. However, there’s a fine line between getting to the point and coming across as rude.
‘Dear Karim, We need those files’ is too abrupt, whereas ‘Dear Karim, Hope this email finds you well, I’ve been asked to collect the files on the Cunningham project…’ comes across clearly and politely.
If you opened with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ the correct formal sign-off is ‘Yours faithfully’ whereas a message to ‘Mr Davies’ should end with ‘Yours sincerely’. Less formal sign-offs such as a simple ‘Thank you’ are more appropriate for people you have existing work relationships with, and if you can add a timely touch such as ‘have a nice weekend’ or a personal note such as ‘enjoy the movie’, all the better.
Check your tone
It’s important to understand that often what you write doesn’t always come across in the same way at the other end. Before you hit the send button on that massive email about a tricky subject: STOP. Go and do something else for a few minutes, then come back and read it over
It’s always a good idea to make sure that you’ve not been blunt or too casual and that what you intended to say is actually what it says on the screen. Also, remember to check your spelling and grammar.
If you’re still unsure, remember you can use the structure and tone of the messages you receive as a guide to help you craft your own. You can also check out these helpful modules on confidence and asserting yourself.