While Emailing, Make It Snappy, Expert Advises

By Mark Belko
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When it comes to email, Ben Carpenter wishes more people would follow Shakespeare’s advice that brevity is the soul of wit.

Carpenter, an author with a long career in finance, doesn’t see much of it, brevity, that is, these days.

“Keeping the organization of the email simple and to the point is something people miss,” he lamented. Carpenter said long, rambling missives represent the most common mistake he sees among professional emails.

Carpenter, author of “The Bigs: The Secrets Nobody Tells Students and Young Professionals About How to Find a Great Job, Do a Great Job, Start a Business, and Live a Happy Life,” said a lengthy email is by no means the only mistake that people make.

Another big one is being too informal. LOL and OMG may work in texts to friends, but it’s probably best to avoid them in formal emails to colleagues and superiors, Carpenter said.

Sarcasm is also a bad idea. “One, it can be misunderstood. Two, it can come across as being mean-spirited and it’s never helpful in your career to be viewed that way,” he said.

Then there can be a lack of discernment. You know the phrase, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?” Well, it doesn’t apply to email. Just about any electronic message you send can be retrieved from cyberspace.

Carpenter has a simple rule: “For any email, I assume that email could at some point be published on the front page of The New York Times,” he said. “And if I don’t want it on the front page of The New York Times, I don’t write it.”

Likewise, it’s never good to write in anger. We’ve all had those moments when we want to respond to an email from a boss or a colleague with a few choice words.

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