The e-mail is an electronic method of communicating with others in our network. In spite of its relative novelty, it has replaced paper in documenting and communicating thoughts. Its speed and simplicity add to the ease of doing business, but there are some ground rules that have to be respected least one fails to properly use this tool.
“I remember how excited I was when I received my first e-mail from a client. I remember feeling the moment, flexing my fingers in anticipation of responding and wondering whether or not the client would ask me a question that might require some research. Oh, the anticipation and excitement of service and learning!
The e-mail, I soon found out was an automated “Out-of-Office” message but that did not take away the magic of the e-mail for me. The e-mail signified another step in my ‘many steps’ journey. I was part of the professional working force. I was open for business.” D.S. Pasipanodya.
The following are some of the tips I have learned on how to respond to professional e-mails.
When responding to e-mails, it is important to :
- Prioritise the e-mails; responding to the most urgent first,
- Read through each e-mail to understand the contents i.e. gist/direction/requirements. Do not rush to respond to the e-mail. If necessary, do some research on the questions posed.
NB: It is a valuable ability/trait if you can anticipate any further questions that the other person might ask. If you are not yet at this level though, keep your response brief and make sure you respond to the questions asked at that point.
3. Gauge the tone of your e-mail. Use formal language and avoid colloquialism. For example, use “Dear Sir/Madam” instead of “Hie”. Never be overly familiar with your clients, workmates or superiors. After all, this is work and you must respond appropriately and within boundaries.
4. Let your e-mail have structure. It must make sense. Below is an explanation of the recommended structure:
a) I refer to… or…..The subject matter refers…
b) Provide a short answer to the question raised. Make your response clear and concise. Time is very important in a professional environment.
c) Explain the answer,
d) Explain any exceptions to c) above,
e) Your recommendation,
f) Valediction for example, I will report further by XXX or; I look forward to hearing from you, etc
g) Close with appealing and polite words. Sign off (Yours faithfully, yours sincerely, kind regards, etc)
It is apparent from the above that every e-mail is an opinion. Therefore, one needs to write it conscientiously!
Things to note:
- Avoid the kind of “robot” greeting like “Hello”; it reflects a too flimsy character of you in a work environment.
- You may wish to keep your e-mails and other correspondence. This is wise for record keeping purposes. Do not delete them unless you are sure they are not important. Take full advantage of e-mail and general electronic features such as; received and read reports, red flagging, follow-up reminders, etc
- If it will take you some time to respond to an e-mail, acknowledge receipt of the e-mail and let the other person know that you will get back to them. Don’t rush into writing; take time to think before writing. Always remember that every e-mail sent out in your name reflects the professional backbone of who you are.
- It is advisable to keep work e-mails separate from your personal e-mails. If your company does not provide business e-mail addresses, try to encourage them to do so.
Article written by Dorothy Pasipanodya. Dorothy is a lawyer by profession who believes that effective communication is a major way of bringing about change in all spheres of life. She is passionate about empowerment and loves a good challenge.
Main image taken from www.fluency.io