How to write a polite email

28 July, 2021

Need a reminder on how to write a polite email? Given the work from home status across the country, email communication has increased dramatically. Face to face conversations are far less thanks to COVID 19 and aside from the zoom meetings here and there, email is now the norm. And while we are used to texting each other short phrases and acronyms, it’s important to remember your work email should remain highly professional – from start to finish.

This is your reminder that you may be perceived differently over email by your recipient based on how it is phrased. Sure, you may be time poor, but here are some quick and efficient tips to avoid any detrimental miscommunications.

1. Does your email begin with an opening and closing?

 No, we’re not talking about a high school literature introduction and conclusion. A simple “Hi John, how are you?” and “Best Regards” will suffice. Leaving out the niceties can come across as abrupt and rude, especially if you aren’t as familiar with the recipient. Set up your footer to automatically add in “Kind Regards” or a sign off of some sort. Remember, you wouldn’t walk into a meeting room and launch straight into your list of demands.

2. Is your email urgent? Try to avoid the “urgent” functionality flag

Just because you deem your email to be urgent, doesn’t mean the recipient will see it that way depending on their schedule. You might have an item on your list you need to offload urgently, but if this is the case, pick up the phone. A phone conversation that acknowledges the other person’s busy schedule whilst highlighting the potential urgency of the job will come across more palatable than an abrupt exclamation mark in their inbox.

3. Don’t abuse your CC privileges

Yes, it is easier to keep employees or contractors in the loop by CC’ing them, however not all the emails may be relevant to every person. If this is the case, chances are they will go straight into the trash. As a rule, only copy people in if there’s an action point for them, not just so you don’t have to update them yourself later. If the first few cc’d emails are irrelevant to the cc’d people, they won’t read the future ones and you will have to update them regardless when the time comes. Don’t be an inbox clog.

4. Spell check and grammar check your email

It is not up to the recipient to try and interpret what you are saying if you have poor grammar or spelling mistakes. It is frustrating and often inefficient as they will then have to follow your email with a “please explain.” Hitting send on an email with grammatical errors indicates to someone that you don’t value them or your communication with them highly. Correction only takes 5 minutes to correct an email and will leave a lasting negative impression if you don’t.

Finally, remember, once an email is sent it’s out there forever. Learning how to write polite email can go a long way. Especially if you are asking for a favour!

Make sure you double check your niceties, remain professional and read over your email once before sending. Avoid sending an emotional email and try to always put yourself in the email recipient’s shoes.