Email Correspondence

These tips will lead to greater comprehension of important messages, help us complete our work faster and better, and inspire comradery and cooperation among our team members. 

  • Return emails promptly. That doesn’t mean being tied 100% to your email, but schedule catch up times during the day to work your emails.
  • Acknowledge. When you can’t answer the issue posed to you in the email right away, at least acknowledge the email by responding that you’ll get back with them. Then, be sure you do.
  • Say hi. Your emails should always include a salutation, even if you’re responding to the person in the office next door. Your greeting helps set the tone of the email. 
  • Remind me, again. Even if you’re responding to a string of emails, circle back to the reason for the email to begin with. For example, instead of saying “Yes, I agree,” say “In terms of the best color to use for the post, I agree that 4-H green is the best color to use.”
  • Use the tools. Outlook provides tools to help us be better organized, at least in our inbox. If you don’t know how to use these tools, request help from our amazing IT Team.
    • Use Jones Loflin’s TRAF system to tackle your messages quickly:
      • T (trash what you don’t need),
      • R (refer things you don’t need to the person who does),
      • A (act on emails that are yours immediately), and
      • F (file done emails for easy finding later).
    • Develop a folder system that allows you to file emails away when you’re done with them or for when you want to find them later.
    • Use the “flag” to mark emails which are still active and need your future response. (I leave mine in the main inbox until I’ve handled it… and that little red flag is my daily reminder.)
  • Be meaningful in your subject line. This helps people sort and find emails they need later. Here's a great template for writing great emails.
  • Pause and reflect. There is a greeting card on my desk which reads “So much of being an adult is just not clicking the ‘SEND’ button.” There may never be a truer statement. Let’s face it. We all have less than ‘blue ribbon moments’ when our emotions get the best of us. Let’s try this.
    • Stop. Pause. Step away from the computer.
    • Assume innocence first. Consider that a situation was not meant to be a personal attack. I often find that when I send emails from my phone, I’m guilty of being short … not because I’m mad, but because I don’t text well or quickly. You might whip off a quick answer and forget to add those social elements that help convey our true feelings. We work with amazing people, so before you jump to assumptions, pause and reflect.
    • Pick up the phone. If you have real concerns with an email sent to you or an issue, pick up the phone and discuss it in person rather than over email. You can say what you really mean and listen to what they really meant. 
  • Be purposeful in cc’ing others. There are times supervisors should be copied in email responses involving staff. I do it when I feel others can benefit from knowing the same information or when there is an opportunity to help staff improve. Let’s help each other get better.
  • Be careful when you forward email strings. It’s important to read entire email strings before you add new people to the conversation. If you find it necessary to add people to the string, be sure you have reread the original email thoroughly to be certain you aren’t broadcasting what someone wrote you confidentially.

If you’d like more information on work efficiency and email etiquette:

Visit past Annual Conference Keynote Speaker Jones Loflin's blog for more tips. Here are some great ones;