I found an interesting article on professional email writing by Peta Kennett-Wilson. Please find below some of the extracts from that.
If one wants to be a kick-ass project manager it is important to know how to talk the talk as well as walk the walk. Forget stock phrases and overly formal emails to clients – one need to chat to them like their partner and that one is helping them build their business.
This way of writing isn’t what we were taught at school and it’s not how we imagined talking to our customers when we entered the world of work, but it’s the best way to develop long-lasting positive client relationships. Email etiquette is where it’s at.
Here are some things which we should avoid while writing an email.
- You need to Do More Than Believe
“I believe that is correct.” “I believe we spoke about that in the meeting.” “The development team believe it is possible to do.”
One might put the word believe into a sentence thinking it’s making one very sound professional and positive but actually it gives a signal that one is not confident and detached from the actual issue. It gives feeling to client that one is just a messenger.
Why not simply say, “Yes, that’s correct.” Or, “The development team can do that.” One will sound far more confident and reliable.
Sometimes one need to let clients know that one is not 100% sure in order to set their expectations or milestones. Instead of relying on one little word to convey that, just say it: “The development team have looked into it and first impressions are positive. I’d recommend we provide half a day to investigate the solution and ensure it’s possible before we commit to stakeholders.”
Take a position which will be sound far more reliable and professional
2. Stop Guessing, Start Knowing
“I think we will over burn on this project by 20% unless we take corrective action.” “I guess we’ll have enough resource to do that.” “I suppose we can fit that in the timings if we rethink our approach.”
This trio of words – Think, Guess and Suppose are not the right words to use.
Saying think, guess or suppose can come across in one of two ways. The first is that it comes across non-committal or as though that one is putting all of the risk and decision on client.
The second is that it comes across that one don’t really know what one is doing or talking about so one is taking a best guess at the situation. Neither of these are going to paint one in a good light.
Instead one can try words like estimate, forecast, or the phrase. ‘We can complete X in the timings if we’re willing to descope Y.’ This shows one has spent time considering the situation and have a professional recommendation to make, based on facts – not guesses.
Don’t make your clients feel doubtful about your professionalism.
3. First Impressions
Just like first impressions, first words in a professional email matter. Get this wrong and the whole tone of one’s email will be off. It’s hard enough to have someone read an email and take it exactly how one meant it – so why make it any harder on oneself with an opening line which puts them on the back foot?
Keep it safe when starting professional emails, stick to a ‘Hi [name]’, or ‘Hello [name],’ or ‘Hi both,’ Hi all’, if there’s more than one person in the email.
It doesn’t need to be fancy. A simple, “Hello” should work.
4. Don’t Tell Me How Obvious It Is
Another word “obviously” should not be used in formal email.See what I did there. Using the word obviously is usually done to try and reassure clients or downplay something.
But think about it, do you feel more calmed reading the phrase? “We obviously spoke about this in the last meeting?” Of course not. It comes across as aggressive and defensive.
Ban this word. Obviously.