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The Importance of Explicitness in Your Emails

Take the time to communicate with explicitness in your emails.

ex-plic-it -adjective

  1. fully and clearly expressed or demonstrated; leaving nothing merely implied; unequivocal: explicit instructions; explicit language.
  2. clearly developed or formulated: explicit knowledge; explicit belief.
  3. definite and unreserved in expression; outspoken: He was quite explicit as to what he expected us to do for him.

Now that we are clear on the definition of explicit let’s apply this to your emails. Explicitness gets lost when we hit reply and quickly type a response. Regardless of all questions or concerns are addressed.

I am often asked what the number one thing that everyone can work on when it comes to email is. My answer is to learn to be a better writer and to communicate with clarity.

How do you become a better communicator with the written word? By doing. The more you write, the better at it you become.

Most folks rush through emails whipping off a comment and hitting send—many times not taking the necessary time to read the entire communication to judge intent and tone correctly.

Do you make this email mistake?

For example, when you receive an email that asks several questions — answer each one point-by-point. Or do you just hit reply and type a general statement at the top of the email that doesn’t cover all the issues presented?

For example:

Hey, John:

Was wondering if we are still on for tomorrow? I think it will be a ton of fun to go out and hit some of our old haunts. Where do you want to go first. Should I pick you up at 7p or 8p and do I need to bring anything? Thanks, Jeff

John’s response… “Yes!”

John did not answer all of the questions that Jeff asked. This response then requires another email from Jeff to clarify with John when responding in detail — explicitly — will avoid this.

Don’t be in such a hurry that you send incomplete email responses. Instead, reply when you have the time to take the necessary time.

The Other Side of the Coin

I’m sure this has happened to you. You send an email with a handful of questions and get a response that you are not sure what that response specifically applies to. Again, that’s where explicitness comes into play.

Explicitness in your email communications helps to bypass misunderstandings and confusion. This goes for your initial inquiry as well. Explicitness enhances your chances of getting the response you desire.

If you top-post, which is the bad habit of just typing a cryptic reply at the top of an email without including any email etiquette, you, in effect, take the lazy way out. Lazy does not leave a positive impression.

When your communication style is quick and incomplete, you risk the impression that your skills with the written word are limited. While this may be okay with friends and family, it can be to your detriment in other important emails.

How to Be a Clear Communicator

Learn how to, and practice, the down-editing of your replies to avoid unnecessary back and forths for clarification. Down-editing will also show that it is important to you to be seen as a clear communicator and will speak volumes about what it will be like to communicate with you. PIA or joy?

Don’t just reply with what point or info you want to relay — reply to the specifics of the email sent to you. That’s a huge difference. Unfortunately, all too often, folks reply without being thorough.

Being explicit will not only help in your personal day-to-day communications but gets you in the habit of doing so for business emails as well. This is a skill that can most definitely enhance your career opportunities.

Take Your Time and Reply in Detail

When you reply without displaying this level of attention to detail, you undermine your potential for success and reflect your level of professionalism. Don’t be outperformed in this regard.

So you want to take the time to type clearly and cover each point. With every email reply, make sure that you have all the bases covered and that your response makes sense. You’ll find those you email will most definitely appreciate that extra effort.

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