Writing Style – Emails — A Dangerous Document

Of all the business documents you prepare (letters, emails, memos, reports, business cases, briefing notes), which one is most likely to have a negative impact on your professional image?

The answer: short emails. Why? Because the one- or two-line email is the one we write most often and with the least amount of thought. Someone asks a question, and we quickly reply – a common knee-jerk reaction to emails. Initially, we feel great. We are productive. We have done “the job.” We can cross one more thing off our “to do” list.

However, this quick one-liner can get us into trouble. Grammar errors or typos are much more evident in a short message. If you have a grammar error in a long report or business case, it is not looked upon favourably. But one error among 1000 words does not have the same negative impact as one error in 20 words.

That one error can project the image of a harried individual who is careless and disinterested in his or her work.

It may not be fair but that’s life in the business world. Never hit the send button until you have reread your message. It may take 10 seconds longer, but it’s your image you are protecting.