This is a topic that is pretty close to my heart. I sincerely believe that written communication says a lot about the professionalism and competency of an individual. So when I see shoddy, poorly drafted mails, my blood boils! After all, you either make or break with the impression you create with your communication!
Spellings - Some people think words like informations and feedbacks actually exist. I request them to please run the spell checker. Similar to furnitures does not exist, informations too does not. Worse, a few talk about "2 informations"! God save them!
Salutations - A "Good morning" is valid only in the mornings and the same applies to a "Good afternoon". If you are writing a mail that is addressed to people operating in a different timezone, please refrain from using salutations like this.
Formatting - Beginning a sentence in lowercase, confusing , with . with ; and ending up with all sorts of possible wrong usage, frequently employing U, B or I, inter capitalization, half finished sentences, this list can go on...Avoid these mistakes and make others' lives bearable.
To and CC Fields - This is meant to be used very judiciously. If there are people who ought to take some action on the message one is sending, they ought to be in the 'To' field. Or this field should be used to include people with whom some information (that adds value) has to be shared. In Cc, one includes people who ought to be in the "know" but from whom no action is required. Without this basic knowledge, people misuse these fields and randomly include every tom, dick and harry in these fields. Before sending any mail, if only these men and women pause and recheck the recipients in these 2 fields!
Subject relevance- Some people have the habit of writing the email subject after drafting the mail. I don't advocate this because it is better to start composing a message after defining its boundary and scope.
Writing for an audience - Before clicking 'send', many people hardly pause to check whether everyone marked in the to field would understand the message or not. Someone might need more details to grasp a message whereas somebody else might not.
Signatures - E mail signature is meant to convey one's role along with a standard sign off phrase. But I wonder why people again write their email address in their signatures. It is also not very prudent to have a 2 para signature that tells a recipient where they work, what the exact address is, what the mission statement and vision statement of their organization is! A few extremely polite people sign off with "Thanks and best regards". They would have drafted an escalation mail. Now, go figure out why they do it!
Out of Office messages - These messages sometimes start with "Thank you for your mail". I have never been able to figure out why someone should be thanked for sending me spam, junk, trash and rubbish! Or why should I thank someone without knowing any reason. If you are someone who starts your out of office message with a "Thank you for your mail", I beg you, please don't! One other point is about blindly copying the same out of office message for people within and outside one's organization. Another annoying observation is a set of options that people tick off. It reads something like "I am out of office"
- On vacation
- On business travel
- In a workshop
Now who needs all these options? Why should someone be stressed to the point of being forced to read through a long rubbish list like this?
Managing by email - Email is the most potent weapon in the hands of someone who does not know how to manage his team. He instructs all his team members to make sure that he is copied in all the mails they send so that he knows what is happening, who is doing what, who is working, who is not working, who is procrastinating, who is escalating and who is following up! Well, these managers are insecure individuals who don't know the meaning of the words accountability and trust.
I am sure many of you would be able to add to this list. Please feel free to do so in the comments section.