An Email Is a Tool to Accomplish Something, Not a Work of Art


The email that led to this post went something like this:

Subject: Want to write a blog post?

Copy: Since you are always so clear, direct, efficient and know how to get things done, I thought a few key tips for avoiding the back and forth email dance from you as expert would be very helpful in the world.

There’s little I like more than efficiency and there’s nearly nothing I loathe more than unnecessarily long emails. Blog post offer accepted.

Adhering to the brevity and directness that landed me this opportunity, let’s get to it. Here are five tips for writing emails. May these help clear inboxes of nauseating emails left unread and prevent future back and forth sending spirals.

And may you, the reader, take stock of your emailing habits and confidently go forth succinctly and to the point.

1. What do you want / need?

Before banging away on your keyboard, answer the above question first. If you need something, ask for it straight out. Do not beat around bushes. Unless absolutely necessary, refrain from drafting lengthy “context” or justification for your request.

If you need something in order to do your job, to accomplish a goal, to move a project forward, etc., then simply type the question, drop the “?” at the end and hit send.

2. K.I.S.S.

Keep it simple stupid. No, you are not stupid. But just remember K.I.S.S. the next time you begin drafting a rambling email.

If you need to deliver instructions, detail out next steps, recap or relay a conversation or draft anything at length, I have two words for you: Bullet. Points. Bullet points are easy on a reader’s eyes and force you to adhere to point number two above, ensuring your most important points are clearly articulated.

3. It’s not personal. It’s business.

When it comes to the workplace, at the end of the day, emails are business.  They are tools enabling you to accomplish tasks and achieve goals. As women, we especially need to silence the voice in our head that says we need to open with qualifying statements, add a few extra exclamation points and give an open-ended closing so we don’t sound rude, demanding or whatever else that voice may tell us.

Write what you want / need, keep it simple and do not waste time asking, “how does this make me sound?” You are a professional with a job to do. That’s how you should sound and that’s how your reader should interpret it.

4. Mind your manners and your grammar.

Point number three does not give you a pass to, in fact, be rude and it most certainly does not give you a pass to be a sloppy, short-handed emailer. Pleases and thank yous are always required and properly constructed sentences, short as they may be, are just that – proper.

Please, do not leave here and write an email as if you are texting.

You are a professional with a job to do. That’s how you should sound and that’s how your reader should interpret it.

5. More than two, pick up the phone.

If it takes more than two email exchanges to get what you need or to convey a message. Stop typing. Pick up the phone and call the individual with whom you are corresponding. If that person works in your office, dare to stand up, walk over and talk to her/him. I will say it again, emails are tools to help you accomplish something. If email is slowing you down, utilize a more efficient tactic.

There you have it. I do hope you found at least one of these helpful. Now, let’s get to work, shall we?

Images via Chaunté Vaughn

Jess is Senior Vice-President and General Manager here at Darling Media. With nearly ten years of experience in media content, partnerships and brand management, Jess is responsible for operations and overseeing all forms of revenue generation. When she is not sending emails, she has her running shoes on or a plane ticket in hand.

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  • Jessica January 23, 2018

    YES. YES. 1000x YES. It’s exhausting trying to decipher what in the actual —- the purpose of so many emails are. I always appreciate concise, clear, polite messages. It saves everyone time and avoids wasted effort finding information which should be obvious…thank you for writing this post!

  • Victoria January 11, 2018

    Loved reading this article! Sometimes, I tend to beat around the bush in emails, ha. But what you shared about simplicity and confidence in our own professionalism really hit it home for me. Thanks for writing!

    • Jess January 12, 2018

      Thank you Victoria. Really happy to know this hit home fo you. Continue to hold strong to your own confidence and keep on keeping on. All the best to you!

  • Melanie Loon January 11, 2018

    I just hear Tom Hanks in “You’ve Got Mail” telling Meg Ryan to go to the mattresses. XD “It’s not personal, it’s business. Recite that to yourself. I know you worry about being brave. DON’T.”

    • Jess January 12, 2018

      Yes Mel! I loved this scene in the film. It is so true.

  • Good advice! 🙂 I stick to all of them already, especially the last tip. Calling is so much more effective than emails.

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    • Jess January 12, 2018

      Cheers to you Charmaine! 🙂