Have you ever noticed how some email conversations can sometimes take on a life of their own? They just keep on going and going and going…
Before you know it the subject field no longer reflects the current conversation. That means that thread has gone on too long. When you can’t know, with a quick glance of the Subject: field, what is within a communication — we have a muddied the conversation.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when we are hitting the REPLY and FWD buttons in your business email communications:
How to Avoid Business Email Re: and Fwd: Confusion
- If the Subject: line no longer applies directly to the current conversation, update it. It is common for email conversations to drift. Start a new email or update the Subject: line to reflect the current focus or topic.
- Never forward without a personal comment about what and why you are forwarding. When you receive an email with Fwd:, down edit to the important part of the forward and add your personal comment before sending on or replying. To forward without comment risks you being perceived as bossy or terse. If you cannot take the time to type a short note explaining why you are forwarding — do not forward.
- Look at who also is a recipient of the email before you reply. When there are Re:s and Fwd:s in the subject field the current conversation may no longer apply to everyone. If your response will be necessary for all to know, only then should you hit REPLY ALL. Otherwise, review the To: and Cc: fields and only reply to those who need to know your comments by pruning the unnecessary addresses.
- Setup your address book so that you can click on contact names and send them an email. Don’t pull up an old email with an unrelated topic, open it and hit REPLY, and start typing about an unrelated issue. Start a new email.
- Never forward those emails that look like they have been forwarded a bazillion times. In particular, refrain from doing so using your business email address or forward these types of emails to business contacts. No matter how righteous or important you feel the topic is, keep your business emails all about business. If you must forward, be sure to down edit all the back and forth and leave in only the meat of the matter.
- Each time you hit REPLY, take the liberty to review then adjust the Subject: field to be more apropos to the focus of your response. For example: Re: New Pricing WAS: Widget Specs. This new Subject: field is crystal clear as to what is within for future reference.
Clarity and Efficiency in Communications
As you can imagine, these tips simply help you to be more efficient and organized. Don’t doubt that those you work with won’t appreciate that you make communicating with you easier than most who neglect these little efforts.
When it comes to the efforts you choose to make in your day-to-day business email activities, paying attention to little details is important. The tips above can foster long-term positive relationships and avoid the potential for misunderstanding.
Including that you will be an ease to communicate with. And that’s money.