Dear 3040 and Beyond:
Help! I’m in big trouble at work. I just graduated from college and I’m leading a really big project. I want to impress my boss, but he says my emails confuse everyone and that I’m basically doing everything wrong. I was afraid to ask what that means. I have to send out lots of complex information to the people on the project every week, so I can’t help writing so much! Do you have any advice about how to write a great email?
New and Confused
Hi New and Confused! I am sorry for the issues that you have been having at work with your emails. I totally understand that you’re having troubles, especially because you are a trying to relay such dense information to your co-workers. I have a few pieces of advice that might help you in your situations.
Write Slow. This is one of the most important things that you can be conscious of when writing an email. Most of the time, you will have a lot of emails to read and even more emails write. You‘ll have deadlines to meet and people that need to hear from you quickly, but the truth is, when you write too fast, that’s when you encounter more issues. Forbes Magazine came out with an article that states the important parts about writing a good email and they also address writing slow. I think the one really valuable point they bring up is “It takes time to formulate your thoughts, to figure out what you’re actually trying to say, and to write your message out in a clear way. And ultimately, that’s what email is—a form of communication. Not a task.” When you are trying to write emails to your co-workers that have such dense information, take your time to write. It going to make your boss so much happier because I guarantee that your emails will make more sense and the thing that you’re doing wrong, will become much more apparent to you.
Know the Why. When your boss says the you’re doing things wrong, it may be because you aren’t stating the “why”. The entire point of sending emails is to get to the why or answer what the other individuals are asking. If you aren’t giving that to people in a timely manner in an email, it will definitely cause tension between you and others in your workplace. Think Simple Now wrote an article about the reasons to explain the ‘why’ and I really think that they would be beneficial to your situations. They explain, “People want to know “what do you need from me?” Answer this question quickly. Skip long introductions, backgrounds, compliments and details. Jump to the point. State it clearly using minimal words.” I am sensing that as you write your emails, your introductions are just as complex as the information that you are conveying. If you keep everything simple, except the complex data that you must share, I think your emails will change drastically and your boss will be very happy.
Don’t Be Scared. You mentioned that you are too afraid to ask for clarification on what your boss means. Although this isn’t technically advice regarding the email, I think it is extremely important to make sure that you have a strong line of communication with your boss. If you don’t, you’re going to continue to have more and more issue with them down the road in your career. Your Office Coach Online gives many many ways as to how accepting feedback can be beneficial to you. I think you will also be happy to see that by following those could really help you succeed in the office, and in your emails. Don’t be scared or discouraged- they want to help you and hired you for a reason.