13 techniques to improve your emails

If you have ever sent an ill-advised or error-laden missive or have been swept up in a meeting availability vortex, you’ll welcome—and share—these tips for refining the process.

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Ever get annoyed with work emails? You’re not alone.

Nearly two-thirds of one survey’s respondents cite it as a source of workplace complexity, confusion and resentment.

As a writer and communicator, you can help turn the tide by making your own emails a model of clarity and efficiency—and save some of your own time, to boot. Here are 13 tips:

1. Don’t send emails reflexively. Consider whether you could better handle the issue with a phone call or direct conversation. Here are six times when it makes way more sense to speak with someone rather than emailing them: You want to apologize, you expect lots of questions, you have to explain something complicated, you’ve taken too long to respond, you want to discuss something personal, or the issue at hand is urgent.

2. Be succinct. Emails may seem fast and easy to you, the sender, but remember the challenges your recipients face. Recall your own inbox with 353 unread emails, and don’t ramble on and on. Instead, get to your point quickly. If your email is super short, odds are better that you’ll get a faster response—and your reader will appreciate your superior communication.

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