Email: You’re Doing It Wrong (But Here’s How To Fix It)


Email is an office staple perhaps even more important that the morning coffee, so it’s astounding how many professional workers are still missing the mark on basic work emails.

Communications research company Radicati has predicted that in 2015, the average worker will send and receive 125 emails every day. While a few of those may be spam, the rest are important parts of the working day.

Keep these tips in mind to set the email bar high in your workplace.

The basics

Far too often work emails will be sent with spelling and grammar mistakes, no capital letters, no salutation and no sign off.

This is a good way to give yourself an unprofessional reputation and potentially cause confusion. Getting these basics right is essential for every single email you right – even to those colleagues who already know you’re brighter than your grammar lets on.

Be calm

Anger is a physiological experience, one that many of us encounter in the workplace and one that has no place in our emails.

Dr. Jillian Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist and author, explains how the chemicals from the automatic response of anger dissipate within 90 seconds of the initial trigger.

If you’ve just received an email or got word of something that has enraged you, wait it out before sending off a piece of electronic text that you can’t take back but will almost certainly regret. Remember the 90-second rule – get yourself a cup of tea, wait it out and come back to it later.



Have you ever tried to find an old email chain and simply not been able to track it down? It happens all the time.

Save yourself the time and frustration further down the track by keywording your headlines with the exact project or details of the chain mentioned in the title. If you start talking about a different project, start a new email.

The undo send function

There are a number of useful labs available for Gmail, such as using multiple inboxes, canned responses and a preview pane. However, none of them trump the “undo send” function.

After you’ve hit send, this lab allows you to cancel sending if you change your mind within a few seconds. It’s largely helpful for when you spot a typo at the last second, but it also great for last-second ideas or changing your recipient list.

Respond. Quickly.

When you send an email, it’s not always clear if the recipient has read it, understands it, or will go about the tasks you’ve asked them to do.

The first rule is to always reply, even if it’s just a quick note to let the sender know that you have read the email, comprehend it and will get on to any tasks.

The second rule is to do so quickly, as just more than half of people expect a reply to an email within 12 – 24 hours. If you can’t give a full reply within a day, simply send a short message back to give the sender a realistic timeframe of when you can.

A golden rule to live by

Never send anything about a person you wouldn’t want anyone else to read. This is true for chat and email. Inevitably, you will cc the wrong person, or a colleague will accidentally forward it on, and you will find yourself very red-faced and making attempts to backtrack that are only destined to fail.