How to Use Email Without Pissing Off Your Boss

Email like a boss small
email

HEY U! READ ME! U’LL TOTES LUV WAT I HAV 2 SAY. A totally professional subject line for a work email, right? Wrong. Don’t let yourself make this or any mistake when sending an email or using chat at work. Here are some tips to keep you professional and appropriate when emailing or chatting with coworkers.

1. Always use proper grammar

Even if your coworker is your best friend, you should still make sure to spell-check your emails. Words should be spelled correctly and written out completely. It does not take that much more time to write out “your” rather than “ur.”

With chat, you can shorten a few words here or there, but not enough to leave the person you’re chatting with thinking you’ve regressed to your pre-teen AIM stage when the most important part of your day was AIMing your crush. We’re using chat as professionals now. It may be hard to part with such a large part of your past, but you just have to let go as Jesse Singal says in his post “Saying Goodbye to AOL Instant Messenger.”

2. Reply to the correct person/people

If you’ve received an email that was sent to multiple people, think before you reply. Who does it concern? If it does not involve everyone included in the original message, do not click the “reply all” button.

Also, be careful if you have multiple chats going at the same time. You are not going to want to send that hilarious anecdote about how your hangover relates to the project you’re working on to your boss instead of your coworker.

3. Write an email, not a novel

What you have to say may be important, but that doesn’t mean that those receiving your email should have to scroll and scroll and scroll to finally get to its conclusion. The point of electronic mail is speed. We are no longer in the eighteenth century with the luxury of sitting down to a three-page letter from our acquaintances. We want to open an email and get to its purpose immediately.

To make this as easy for the reader as possible, remember to keep paragraphs short. Use bullet points or numbered lists to create an email layout that is very easy to read and understand.

Stay away from using all uppercase letters. That makes it seem like you’re yelling at your reader. Instead, use bold or italics to emphasize certain words or phrases.

Also, don’t write emails in chat. Chats are for conversations. If what you have to say is going to be more than a few sentences, send an email.

4. Know when something should be communicated face-to-face

It can be really easy to send someone a quick message over chat or email, but some things need to be heard and not read. Emotional conversations should be held with that person instead of at them. Don’t use email or chat as a way to avoid an uncomfortable situation. Most likely, if you’re uncomfortable about a conversation you need to have with someone, it’s a conversation that should be had face-to-face.

Something else to keep in mind is that it can be hard to distinguish tone over chat or email. You may know you’re joking, but if a person is unfamiliar with your sarcasm, your words may be taken more harshly than you intended.

Let’s take a lesson from the infamous “ham sandwich incident” between Katrina Nugent and Melinda Bird.

  • Do not send something trivial from your work email
  • If it starts to get emotional, stop writing and have the conversation in person
  • Do NOT hit that reply all button

5. Make use of your subject line

The subject of your email is the first thing the person on the receiving end sees. This means that you should have an actual subject in the subject line. It’s courteous to let the reader know what they are opening. That way they can prioritize. If you sent them one email with a hilarious BuzzFeed article and another with a question that you need to be answered right away, which email would you want them to read first? How would they know which email is which without the accompanying subject line?

6. Don’t flood people’s inboxes or chats

On the topic of funny BuzzFeed articles and other non-work related internet finds, you want to be sure that you’re not flooding people’s inboxes or chatting them all day long. Yes, it can be great to get a little break from the daily grind and watch that cat get scared by its own reflection, but for the most part, people need to concentrate on their work. Actually, if you are sending 20 YouTube videos every hour to everyone in your Google chat list, you might need to re-evaluate your job.

7. Address the person you’re emailing with a greeting and end the email with a closing remark

Emails should have a format. The beginning of your email should address the person receiving it. You should not just jump into the body of your message without a greeting. If the letter is informal, a “Hi [NAME]” is fine. If it is formal, “Dear [NAME]” can be used.

At the end of your email, you should add in a closing sentence. If the person you are writing to is going to be helping you, then you can end your email with a “Thanks” or “I appreciate your help.” If the email is more of an exchange of information rather than a request, end your email with a “Cheers,” “Sincerely,” or “Best.”

After your closing line, write your name, but it’s also a good idea to have a customized signature that is included at the end of all of your emails. This signature should not only have your full name, but also your job title, company name, and contact information. Just don’t go overboard. As shown in this article on urlesque, anything more than your basic information can get really annoying.

8. Finally, if you get an angry email at work, respond with grace

If you find yourself reading an email from a very angry superior or coworker, take some advice from Bethany Miller on Levo League and Alison of Ask A Manager. Alison gives advice on how to handle an unreasonably angry email and Bethany advises on responding to “a scathing work email.”

Your business email is a professional tool. If you keep that in mind, it shouldn’t be hard to have a successful email/chat experience. Just be sure to keep an eye on which buttons you’re clicking and who is included in the message. Most importantly, if you’re feeling annoyed or upset—never reply right away. Always wait and think before you send.

email

Tell us what you think: