We all know that effective communication is key to success in the workplace. What we don’t always actually understand is how to be effective communicators. Often, people communicate ineffectively because they forget or fail to keep the purpose of the communication in mind.
Here is a checklist of questions to ask yourself before you hit send on that email:
Why am I writing this email?
Is there a better way to deliver this message?
Is the subject line clear and relevant?
Do I have a clear call-to-action for this email at the end of it? Would my colleague know what to do with this when it’s done reading it?
Will the receiver know what the next steps are?
Is there anything that could be misunderstood?
Is it too long? Does it include unnecessary information?
Should this email be separated into multiple messages?
Would anyone be offended by the content of this email?
Is this the right tone for this message?
Is this the right time to deliver this message?
Am I jumping around too much? Does it have a logical flow?
Are there any long sentences or run-on paragraphs? Could these sections be broken up into smaller, more readable chunks?
Is there anything that could be reworded to make it easier for the reader?
Overall, do I think it will accomplish what I’m trying to accomplish?
Is there anything in this email message that might cause legal ramifications?
When you’re reviewing emails, remember that this is a conversation. You should always be speaking directly to your colleagues, and you should always do anything you can to make your message easily understandable. Use clear and direct language, and be considerate of the time your receiver is taking out of their day to read your message. Finally, remember that there’s a greater possibility for misunderstandings or confusion with written communication, so you should always try your best to think through how you want the receiver to interpret the meaning of your message.
These tips are meant to be a quick reminder rather than an exhaustive list of all the things you should and shouldn’t do. At the end of the day, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and simply ask yourself whether or not your email will accomplish what you’re trying to accomplish.
Remember that good communication builds rapport, respect, and trust with your colleagues. It also makes your job and the jobs of those around you easier. Effective email communication is just one small way to show everyone how much effort and care you put into what you do.