8 Rules For Transmitting The Right Tone In An Email

8 Rules For Transmitting The Right Tone In An Email

8 Rules For Transmitting The Right Tone In An Email

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email etiquette2Sending emails used to be an informal thing because we used to use hand-written letters to sound formal. Now that emails are the primary form of communication in a professional and personal capacity, it is important to make sure your email doesn’t send the wrong message. Especially for non-native English speakers, it is difficult to achieve the correct tone in English. If you sound angry, impatient, or even over-formal, you risk alienating your reader.

Here are some things to remember so that you convey the right tone.

  1. Are you using proper sentence structure? First word capitalized with appropriate punctuation? Multiple instances of !!! or ??? are perceived as rude or condescending.
  2. If your email is emotionally charged, walk away from the computer and wait to reply. Review the Sender’s email again so that you are sure you are not reading anything into the email that simply isn’t there.
  3. Never use an old email to hit reply and start typing about an entirely new topic.
  4. Take a quick look at the e-mails in your Trash before you delete them just in case a good e-mail landed there by mistake.
  5. Avoid using “Could you please …” Putting “please” after “could you” makes it sound as if you have already asked the person to do something, and that you are reminding them again because you are exasperated.
    1. Acceptable: “Please could you send me the details of the insurance policy?”
    2. Acceptable: “Could you send me the details of the insurance policy, please?”
    3. Acceptable: “Could you send me the details of the insurance policy?” (“could you” is formal enough and “can you” is too informal).
  6. taptap tapAvoid using “Would you be so kind as to…” This phrase makes you sound almost sarcastic, as if you think the other person is likely to refuse your request. In business, a person doesn’t need to be “kind” to do something: it’s generally their job! . It’s much better to use a phrase such as “Could you..” to ask someone to do something.
  7. Avoid using “Kindly…” This word makes you sound angry, or that you think the other person is incompetent and can’t do their job properly. It’s much better to use a phrase such as “Could you..” to give instructions to someone.
  8. Avoid using “Immediately” or “Without further delay”. It’s too pushy.
    1. Acceptable: “As this matter is urgent, I would appreciate a reply as soon as possible.”
    2. Acceptable: “I would be grateful for your prompt reply.”
    3. Acceptable: “I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.”
    4. Acceptable: “I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.”

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