IT is surprising that the art of writing effective emails is not being given the same importance as was assigned to letters or memos. Along with the communication, the system of emails is also commonly used for chatting between friends and colleagues, which did not happen previously.
In chatting sentences like “How r u” and “Shall invite u on t” are used and people tend to invent their own abbreviations of words for brevity. This trend may be acceptable for informal communication but reflects a non-serious behaviour in official writing.
Mostly there are chains of emails between people exchanging business communication, who have common interest or accountability in some matter. A glaring discrepancy found in such emails is that once an individual, initiating or identifying any particular issue, has given a ‘subject’ to the email, people involved in the chain subsequently ignore the subject and forward it to others by just writing their own comments or views.
For instance, a loosely worded subject “I discussed this issue with you yesterday” may continue till the end of the chain though the content of the concluding email will not have any relevance to its title.
Wording of ‘subject’ should be carefully selected and it should represent the contents of the email. Some people do not give any ‘subject’ to their email and leave the space blank. Recipients may delay the opening of such emails and first look at other emails, whose subject draws their immediate attention. Assigning a title does not require much time and effort but it enhances the value and importance of the email.
Some individuals send their emails to people at higher levels in the organisation though the latter are in no way concerned with the matter. The purpose is to demonstrate their abilities to the higher management and get appreciation. Such individuals should understand that these tactics cast a negative impression on those who are not related with the subject.
One should be careful in writing the correct spelling of names of persons which appear in the body of the text or otherwise. Some people start their emails by writing the name of the recipient after the word ‘Dear’. In such emails which I receive my name is wrongly spelled in almost 90 per cent of cases. What bothers me is that why they cannot check the spelling in the mailing address written just above the line from which the space for the text starts. If the sender deems it necessary to begin his text by addressing the recipient by name, it should be preceded with ‘Mr’, especially if the person is unknown and has never been seen by him. In our culture, people feel offended when a person much younger than them addresses them with their first name.
The text of the email should be clear, simple and precise. Only those facts and figures should be mentioned which will facilitate decision-making in the matter under deliberation. Emails should be addressed only to those persons from whom some opinion or decision is required. Copies should be sent to those on whom the decision will impact or who may have some stake in the matter or have some views to offer.
Adhering to the suggestions mentioned above will expedite the process of decision-making and save other people’s time.
PARVEZ RAHIM Karachi