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How To Write Work Emails Like A Pro

'Should I put a smiley?' and other concerns, answered.

Here's the ultimate guide to writing work emails you didn't know you really needed, because you not only save more time being clear from the get-go, you also save face by not looking unprofessional or weird.

1. Capitalize the pronoun "I." Use uppercase and lowercase correctly. 

2. Punctuate properly. Use those commas or periods to separate your sentences; they're there for a reason.

3. Identify your recipient. Is the person or the entity you're communicating with known for being very formal? If that's the case, don't type a smiley. If you're emailing someone you're relatively close and friendly with, go ahead with that exclamation point and smiley. Or emoji!

According to business writing expert Bryan Garner, the key is mimicry. Use words/jargon that the person you're talking to uses as well. It'll increase trust "because people tend to feel an affinity toward those who act similarly to them."

4. State your emotions. If you really want to convey your emotions or let your recipient think you feel those emotions, state them. "I'm very glad about so and so," "I'm so sorry to hear about this and that."

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5. Avoid sending a huge block of text. No one is going to want to read that, and anyone who does is going to have strained eyes and be pissed at you for it. Section your ideas into paragraphs so they can be easily read and absorbed.

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6. But still have the important details in the e-mail. Because that's why you're sending one to update your recipient about a project, and that's why they're going to read one.

7. Get to the point at once. Proceed to your point and try not to go overboard with the unnecessary chatter. Your recipient will see right through it.

8. Proofread and revise. It's not wise to send something you didn't go over at least once. You don't want your recipient seeing your grammatical errors and getting the impression that you're lazy.

9. Delete anything that was written in the heat of the moment. That rant of yours? That's better left to the ears of a friend. Tone yourself down, reel in. What you say when you're filled with emotions might not be what you really think or feel when you're rational.

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10. Don't hit "send" right away. If there's an issue that needs thinking about, think about it. Take a few minutes, take a day. On your part it's good to have pretty meaty ideas when you reply to an e-mail.

11. But that doesn't mean you ignore the sender of the e-mail. Let him know you got that e-mail and you'll get back to him soon. (Be sure to get back to him, too.)

12. Avoid sending emails at the end of the workday or on a weekend.

13. If there's bad news and you can communicate in person, communicate in person. Even if you follow the points above, e-mails can still be difficult to interpret. And when you're going to discuss something touchy? It won't look pretty at all. According to Andrew Brodsky, a doctoral candidate in organizational behavior, "people infuse their own emotions into a message, regardless of the sender's intent." So if you have bad news and want to somehow try to uplift your recipient's feelings, your email will not do it at all. Meet in person. We get important messages on someone's facial expression and we also tend to be more ethical and empathetic in person, states Joseph Grenny, a social scientist for business performance.

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Remember that while email is our default way of communicating, it's not the only way for us to reach one another. And even if you might already have an e-mail thread about a topic or issue, you can still discuss things in person or over the phone especially when things become touchy.

Source: Harvard Business Review

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