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In Business Email Explicitness Matters

ex-plic-it -adjective

  1. fully and clearly expressed or demonstrated; leaving nothing merely implied; unequivocal: explicit instructions; explicit language.
  2. clearly developed or formulated: explicit knowledge; explicit belief.
  3. definite and unreserved in expression; outspoken: He was quite explicit as to what he expected us to do for him.

Now that we are clear on the above, apply this to your business emails. If you receive an email that asks several questions — answer each one, point-by-point — in detail. Stop for a moment and think about what you would want to know if you were asking the questions. Then provide all that information even if it is above and beyond what is being asked.

If you know one question will lead to another, cover them both. That last thing you want to do is hit reply and type a general statement at the top of the email that doesn’t cover all the issues presented.

Explicitness in your business email communications helps to avoid misunderstandings and confusion. One way to not cover everything in detail is to top-post, (the bad habit of just typing a cryptic reply at the top of an email without including any email etiquette). With this approach you are showing the person who emailed you that you are not capable of succinct replies. Or lazy.

Learn how to, and practice, the down-editing of your replies to avoid unnecessary back and forths for clarification.

By down-editing you can show that it is important to you to be a clear communicator and will speak volumes as to what it will be like to communicate with you. PIA or joy? In business this can make a big difference as to whom a potential customer chooses to do business with!

Review and Respond Point by Point

Some folks just don’t want to down-edit. I’m not sure why but I have experienced quite a bit of resistance to do so. If you do not want to down-edit for whatever reason, don’t just hit reply with what point or info you want to relay. You need to be sure to reply to the specifics of the email that was sent to you.

Taking the time to read an email and then making sure that you’ve covered all the topics required or questions asked reflects attention to detail. Not doing so will demonstrate a lack of courtesy for those who email you causing them to have to send an additional email for further clarification. This makes you appear inefficient and causes others to be the same. Not a great way to nurture business relationships, right?

Business is so darned competitive. You need to use every trick in the book to stand out above your competitors. In this regard email is a differentiator! When you make it clear that contacts can communicate with you with ease, that reflects on what it will be like to do business with you. The easier to communicate with you; the easier to do business.

In business, replying without displaying this level of attention to detail will undermine your potential for success. Why take that risk when it is so easy to avoid?

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