- Flickr / Leo Hidalgo
Email can be nerve-racking.
How long should you make your thank-you note to the person who met you for an informational interview? How do you reply to your team telling them that their project isn’t quite up to snuff without making them cry?
Enter “Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done,” a new book by Jocelyn Glei that promises to provide simple answers to those tricky questions.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of Glei’s best tips, based on her book and her interview with Business Insider. Read on and email them to all your friends …
1. Use the word ‘yet’ in critical emails to coworkers to soften the blow
As in: “I don’t think these designs are where I want them to be yet.”
Glei cites research by psychologist Carol Dweck, who says that the word “yet” helps cultivate in people a “growth mindset,” so that they want to keep trying until they get it right.
Using this word “automatically shifts to this mindset where they are on a timeline, making progress,” Glei said.
2. Preview emails to busy people on your phone before sending
Most emails get opened for the first time on a mobile device. And a message that looks fine on a laptop might look epic – in a bad way – on a phone.
So test it out before you send anything to a busy or important person.
“You always have to take into account that someone will be processing that message on-the-go, in an impatient state, at a glance,” Glei said. That means you need to “be concise and to get right to the point.”
3. Don’t be afraid to use exclamation points in your emails
Glei said that whatever enthusiasm you intend to convey gets taken down a notch when the recipient reads your email: “When the sender thinks it’s neutral, receivers tend to think it’s more negative.”
So if you think you sound overly upbeat, you probably sound normally enthusiastic. That’s why it’s not necessarily unprofessional to use an exclamation point or two in your message.
4. When emailing someone for a favor, put your request right upfront
To boost your chances of getting a reply, make sure you establish your credibility early on in the message, especially if the recipient doesn’t know you. Then get straight to the ask.
“In a short-attention span world, it’s best to get right to the point immediately and do your explaining later,” Glei writes in “Unsubscribe.” “Think about what will appear in the two-line message preview the recipient will see as she scrolls through her inbox: Will it capture her attention?”
5. Include a potential solution when emailing your boss to ask for something
“If you’re asking a question, propose a solution,” Glei writes.
In other words, “What do you think about X?” isn’t the best idea.
If you’re requesting time off, for example, explain that it will be a slow period, your coworker has agreed to cover for you, and it will help you come back rested for the next big push.
- marc falardeau/Flickr
6. Don’t feel pressured to say yes to emails with professional requests
Say someone emails you asking you for an introduction to someone in your network. You don’t have to comply.
Glei writes that making a connection or intro means you’re implicitly endorsing the people you connect. So if you don’t feel comfortable, say so.
For example: “I’d love to help you out, but my relationship with [insert contact’s name] is still fairly new, so I don’t really feel comfortable making introductions at this juncture.”
7. Make sure you send a concise thank-you email after someone does you a professional favor
“It makes people feel warm and fuzzy inside to know they have helped someone,” Glei writes. “… It also makes them more likely to help you or someone else again next time.”
Here’s one template you can use: “Hi Mark – We’ve been getting tons of positive feedback on the new responsive website you coded for us. Traffic is up 50% on mobile! We could never have done it without you. Much appreciation for all of your great work on the project.”
8. Write a subject line that shows people how this email will help them
“You always want to frame whatever you’re asking in terms of the value for them as opposed to the value for you,” Glei said.
Ask yourself: “How can I step into their shoes?” What would feel like a strong value proposition to them?”
One thing to avoid in your subject lines, according to Glei: ALL CAPS.