By Judy Cohen Minches

It’s no surprise why so many people communicate via email: it’s fast and efficient. You can send a message to 1 person or 100 people in just seconds. It’s awesome!

…Or is it?

The BEST thing about email is the ease with which one can provide information such as logistics and meeting updates.

The WORST thing about email is…let me count the ways!

For starters, it should NOT be used as a replacement for personal and delicate communication. Some topics are more appropriately handled in a face-to-face conversation or at least verbally, which also allows for immediate clarification, whereas email can result in miscommunication.

Additionally, an email can be forwarded anywhere. That alone can be dangerous.

Kate Ashford from Forbes.com reports that the average worker spends over 6 hours a day checking/writing/responding to email.

That’s a big a chunk of time each day that has the potential to go against us if we aren’t smart about it.

My Top 5 Email Tips:

  • Always PAUSE BEFORE YOU HIT SEND – Think it over, re-read, sit on it, perhaps for 24 hours. Remember that once you write an email, it is forever. You can’t take it back. It can be forwarded with ease. You will be accountable for whatever you send. Don’t ever email when you are angry! Don’t badmouth anyone! Emotional responses can lead to embarrassment, regret, and in some cases, the loss of your job. Always ask yourself how you would feel if your boss – or other important people in your professional world – were to read it.
  • Written Expression – Some of us struggle with effectively expressing ourselves in writing; therefore, talking on the phone or in person may lead to a better and more accurate exchange of ideas. Perhaps initially writing content in Word and then pasting it in the email would be a good idea. Doing it this way would also prevent you from hitting SEND prematurely or losing your email if you experience a computer glitch.
  • Email Overload – This is a reality we all struggle with; we don’t need to add to the overwhelming number of emails we get on a daily basis if we can relay our message during a quick conversation in person, on the phone, or on a Skye call.

Another suggestion is to choose “Reply” and to avoid “Reply All,” unless you have something meaningful to add.

Additionally, if you are waiting for a response to do the next leg of work, email may not be the most efficient form of communication. The recipient may have hundreds of emails waiting to be read before he/she gets to yours.

  • Errors – Fine tune for typos, misspellings, incorrect information, grammar, punctuation, and so on. Email, like any other form of communication, is a reflection of who we are.

If you reference an attachment, be sure to include it.

  • Manners – Add greetings, be polite, and avoid nicknames with people you don’t know.

Email has changed everything.

Don’t let it change the quality reputation you’ve worked so hard to build.

Judy Cohen Minches is a professional journalist who has written news and feature stories for a variety of publications. She is a mom, grand mom and wife and loves time with family and friends.