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How to Avoid Email Misunderstandings Checklist

Checklist to avoid email misunderstandings.

Email misunderstandings happen every day. However, you can easily avoid these misunderstandings by just taking the time to make sure you have all the bases covered.

All we need is not to rush through our email activities. That is, if you want to make sure your email will be received, read, and perceived with the desired meaning by the intended recipient.

Here’s a quick checklist of the items I have found are the most significant troublemakers that you need to check before clicking Send:

Before You Click “Send” Email Checklist

  • Make sure your email includes a courteous greeting and closing. Again, helps to make your communications not appear to be demanding or terse.
  • Address your contact with the appropriate level of formality and make sure you spell their name correctly.
  • Spell check to reflect that you are educated and can communicate clearly with the written word. Emails with typos are not taken as seriously.
  • Read your email out loud to make sure the tone is that which you desire. Avoid relying on formatting for emphasis; instead, choose the words that reflect your meaning. A few additions of the words “please” and “thank you” when apropos go a long way.
  • Be sure to include all relevant details or information necessary to understand your request or point of view. Generalities can many times cause confusion and unnecessary back and forths.
  • Are you using proper sentence structure? First word capitalized with appropriate punctuation? Refrain from using multiple instances of !!! or ??? to avoid being perceived as rude or condescending.
  • If your email is emotionally charged, walk away from the computer and wait to reply until level heads can prevail. Then, review the sender’s email again to ensure you are not reading anything into the email that isn’t there.
  • Refrain from using the Reply to All feature to CYA or give your opinion to those who may not be interested. In most cases replying to the sender alone is your best course of action.
  • If sending attachments, did you check file size and format to make sure you don’t unnecessarily gobble up the other side’s bandwidth and that they have the software to view your file? Did you ask first when would be the best time to send it?
  • Make one last check that the visible address or addresses in the To: field are those you wish to send your reply to. In the case of multiple addresses, make sure that they know each other — otherwise, use the BCc.

Little Steps Can Make a Big Difference

When you consider the above issues in your day-to-day email activities, you will avoid misunderstandings and be known as a pleasure to communicate with. It’s a win-win!

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