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Crafting Polite Professional Emails

Updated: May 14, 2023

Let's start with the basics of the basics: Writing professional emails.

Emails are considered to be the most professional and formal way of communication in business.

And yet, people don't even realize how important it is to learn the etiquette of writing a good professional email.

Writing an email is like writing a story. Like any story, an email also has a subject, a beginning, a middle part, and an ending. If you look at this way, it becomes easy to construct emails that are short, precise, polite, informative, and convincing.

Let's look at each of these parts one by one.

Image of an email icon to depict the theme of the article which is about writing polite and professional emails.

The Subject

There is nothing more horrible than receiving an email that says '(No Subject)'. It is neither intriguing nor amusing, what it shows is that you were too careless to even proofread your email before hitting the 'Send' button.

The subject of an email should be short and should highlight exactly what the contents are going to be about. The reason for this is, people receive a high volume of emails every single day and most of them are busy with their daily work to pay too much attention to all the emails piling up in their inbox. A clear subject makes it easier for them to know when an important email hits their inbox and you are likely to receive a reply faster than you would expect otherwise.

By reading the subject of your email, the receiver should be able to tell if you are making a request, sending information that requires their attention, or sending information just for their knowledge.

If it is something urgent that requires immediate attention, you can add 'ACTION REQUIRED:' or 'ACTION REQUESTED:' at the beginning of your subject line.

The Beginning

Once you are all settled with your subject line, it's time to start writing the email itself so let's talk about the greeting or the salutation.

The norm is to start the email with a simple 'Hi' or 'Hello' followed by the name of the person you want to address. Now of course, if it's a colleague you work with you'll simply use their name. If it is someone you haven't met and are addressing for the first time then you can go with something more formal like 'Mr. / Ms.' followed by their name.

It is always nice to add one more line or two to create a flow instead of jumping right to the point.

Add a little 'hope you are well / nice to make your acquaintance / it was lovely connecting with you the other day' to start the conversation.

The Middle

Coming to the point, the body of the email, it is important to be precise and short with your emails. If the topic requires a longer explanation, it is best to have a phone call or a meeting instead.

One thing to note here is that you should provide complete information in your email so the context is understood completely by the receiver. If they do not need to ask a follow-up question then it means your email made sense to them and it was clear enough for them to reply back to you with the requested information.

One more horrible thing is a long email conversation with tons of people copied in it. So make sure that you are adding the right people in it and you are using the 'To / Cc / Bcc' fields the right way. If you feel the discussion is reaching a point where it is not necessary to have a bigger audience then move everyone to Bcc. (Trust me, there are long email threads out there with too many people copied who are cursing the sender for disturbing their inboxes when it is not required.)

One more important point which is missed by a lot of people is the fact that you need to keep a check on the tone of your email. People's imagination is a strong thing and if you are not careful, your email can easily be misread. The tone of your email should be adjusted depending upon the person you want to send the email to.

A request should sound like a request, not a statement or an order. When writing to your supervisor the tone of your email would be different as compared to writing an email to your a peer. Similarly, writing an email to your subordinates should sound different as compared to writing an email to your clients or customers.

You can find tools like Grammarly online to check the tone of your written communication.

The Ending

The ending should be crisp. If you require an action from the receiver and you have not clearly stated that in the body of the email then you can add it as an ending line to your email. You can use something like 'looking forward to your response' or 'feel free to contact me in case you need any assistance' to end your emails.

Lastly, don't ever forget to proofread your emails.

Professional emails, when written right, flow naturally like a conversation between two people. They provide all the information in a few lines without the receiver investing too much time in trying to decipher the context.

Remember, writing an email is like writing a story. Happy writing!

- The Other Working Woman

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