Do you have to send someone several emails to get answers to your questions? Does it take people a long time to respond?
I am going to be brutally honest. The problem is most likely you – not the recipient.
Email is generally used to share a thought, idea, or decision. If you want to get a quick, quality response, try these three easy steps to improve your email communication…
Step 1: Be specific
Be very specific when writing an email. If you want to schedule a meeting, don’t ask, “What day works for you?” Give them some suggestions instead.
But – don’t suggest too many options. Just be specific enough to force a decision. If your suggestions won’t work, the recipient will send you a reply with details of their availability.
Here’s an example:
How does 1:30 or 3:30 pm on Tuesday work for you?
Step 2: Use numbered lists
This is a must. Before I began using numbered lists, it would often take me 3 or 4 emails to get the answers I needed. I was asking too much of the recipient by forcing them to extract the pertinent information.
If you ask three or more questions, the recipient is likely to only respond to one of them. Nobody wants to do extra work, so use bullet points.
Here’s an example:
I finished setting up the website. Let me know what you think of the following:
- I used dark green for the header. I can lighten it up if you feel it’s too dark?
- Is the address in the footer correct? (if not, please send me the correct one)
- Do you want the “about” page in both the main navigation and the footer, as it is now?
Step 3: Write short sentences and paragraphs
Short sentences and paragraphs are easier to read and understand. People are better able to digest information that’s presented in small chunks. The recipient may set your email aside if he/she can’t scan and comprehend it quickly, and you will be left waiting for a response. So keep your email concise, and help the recipient help you.
Try these three simple steps for 1 week and see if your email communication improves. I’ve found this approach catches on. Many of the people I regularly email have begun using these techniques, and they’ve helped our overall communication.
Have you ever dealt with any of these issues? How do you deal with the problem?