5 Email Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making

Sophie Miura

There are days when it feels like we communicate more over email than in person. Whether you're responding to a close colleague or cold-emailing a CEO, the way you express yourself gives the recipient subtle hints about who you are. Want to know what your email style says about you? Inc. rounded up the most common mistakes people make over email and explained how everything from punctuation to your opening line could impact the way you're perceived. Read on to find out the five email mistakes that could be undercutting your professionalism. 

You Use an Informal Greeting

How do you start an email? According to career coach Barbara Pachter, if your email greeting is too informal you're doing yourself a disservice. "Hey is a very informal salutation, and generally it should not be used in the workplace. Use hi and hello instead," says Pachter. When in doubt, start the conversation with a more formal greeting, and allow the recipient to set the tone in their response. 

You Treat It Like a Text Message

If your day is spent constantly switching between different forms of technology, punctuation and grammar can go awry. Spend 30 seconds double-checking your email, even if it's just to a friend in the office. It might seem unnecessary, but setting good grammar habits could prevent you from making a mistake when you email your manager or clients. Pachter says casual text message language creates an unprofessional image, and grammar mistakes, no matter how small, should be avoided—"you may be judged for making them." 

You Hit Send Too Early

You're busy typing away and accidentally press send while your email is incomplete—it's a common mistake. Yes, a well-worded follow-up email can explain the situation, but a small change in your email habits will prevent it from ever happening again. Type the subject and body of the email first, then add the recipients. Simple.

You Use Humor

Email is a tough place to use humor. In person, we have body language and tone at our disposal to convey subtle nuances, but over email your message can get lost in translation. "When in doubt, leave it out," says Pachter.

You Forget About Cultural Differences

Without face-to-face interaction, it can be easy to forget the context of your conversation. Pachter tells Inc. that a common but potentially problematic email mistake is forgetting about cultural differences. High-context cultures such as Japanese, Arab, and Chinese, may have different ways of forming business relationships, so keep that in mind when you draft an email. 

Shop 8 chic laptop cases, then visit Inc. for more common email mistakes. 

What's your email pet peeve? Tell us in the comments below.

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