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How not to make your co-workers want to pull their hair out when receiving your emails

Deirdre Clarke Deirdre Clarke
Deirdre Clarke
Woman working at standing desk computer

It’s another typical morning and the sun is shining brightly as I sit down in my comfy office chair, ready to tackle the shlew of new emails in my inbox. Being a morning person, I am in a pretty darn good mood as I start tackling them one by one, when the inevitable happens. I open an email and am instantly overwhelmed with way too many words. Ugh. Multiple paragraphs that will actually require me to scroll down to read all of it. Seriously? What was this person thinking by sending an email with so much information in it that my first reaction is to lose focus?

So what do I usually do next? Well, I close the email and mark it as unread, of course. Maybe I will come back around and read it later, if it does not get buried in my inbox before then.

In this world of diminished attention spans and a long laundry list of items on our to-do list every day, being brief and to the point is an absolute must for success. When you write an email, you must immediately capture the attention of the reader if you expect any sort of timely response and action.

What tips will ensure that your email gets read?

Clear call to action right up front

Within the first 2 sentences, state what you need from the reader as they will immediately know what is expected. Having the context up front is beneficial so that the details to follow then help to provide the explanation. Too often, people tend to start with a drawn out story and the recipient is helplessly scanning ahead to figure out what the true need is.

Write only 1 or 2 paragraphs

You have heard the old saying – less is more. It truly is. Also 2 paragraphs does not mean countless number of sentences in each! I am also a huge fan of bullet points for multiple details as they are easier to scan and absorb vs. having to read full sentences.

What will cause frustration?

Too much detail

Become better at getting right to the point and including only the details that are really needed. Leave out the fluffy details as you can always follow up with those later if needed. Reread your email, before sending, and remove any extra information that is not needed right away.

No explicit call to action

Have you ever received an email, read it, and then wondered what the point was? Sure you have. So make sure you clearly state your question or reason that you are sending the email in the first place.

I know that there will be many people who will argue that there are times when it is impossible to summarize with a couple of paragraphs. It’s simple. When that happens, you should be discussing the issue in person instead and not sending an email at all.

Mastering the art of summarizing your point in a few words will pay huge rewards. The best part? Your recipients will start reading your emails! Your name in their inbox will instantly signify an easy email to get through and take care of. That of course, will yield you more responses, making you more efficient. Better yet, you will quickly earn respect by those you work with. That my friends, is a sure fire way to put you on a path to success.