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Direct, with Respect: Sending Email Like a Pro

Communication strategies are an essential piece of Public Allies’ professional development training. How you speak—and are spoken to—in the workplace can have a major impact on your own mental health and how others perceive you.

Email is no exception. As straight-forward as it may seem, learning to send effective email can improve your daily experience at work and invite more opportunities for collaboration. Here are a few questions to consider before hitting send:

Is Email the Right Medium?

What is the best communication method for this particular message? When it comes to bad news or an urgent question, a phone call or face-to-face meeting may be more appropriate.

Who is the Recipient?

A quick note to an office buddy is written differently than a report to a manager. Consider who is on the other end of the communication and tailor your message accordingly. If you know the person well, consider their unique email style and try to accommodate it. For example, avoid sending long, detailed paragraphs to someone who typically prefers quick bullet points.

Is the “Ask” Clear?

We have all received emails with no discernable request or next steps. Cut through the noise by making your “ask” at the very top of the message. You can always add more details below.

Did You Check for Typos?

Spelling and grammatical errors are not the end of the world, but cleaning them up will convey a sense of care to the recipient.

Are You Writing with Confidence?

Fight the urge to soften your writing with filler words, vague questions, and unnecessary apologies. Show yourself the same respect you are showing the recipient. For example, instead of asking “does that make sense?” try “please let me know if you have any questions.” Instead of “sorry for my error,” try “thank you for catching that.”

How is Your Tone?

Even unintentionally, frustration can show up in writing. Take a moment to re-read your email and edit parts that could come off as snippy, blaming, or dramatic. It can be tricky to strike a balance between being direct and being rude, but your intention should be clear as long as you take time with your words.

Kickstart Your Nonprofit Career

During our 10-month AmeriCorps apprenticeship program, members receive ongoing professional development training and an opportunity to practice at a full-time nonprofit position. Since 1994, Public Allies has identified thousands of diverse young adults and prepared them for leadership. Join us today.