The invention of the inbox is up there – on par with the invention of the light bulb, peanut butter, and the modern day automobile.  Emailing can save time, increase efficiency, and open up communication radically.

However, at the same time, it can do the exact opposite of all those things.  If used inappropriately, emailing can waste time, decrease productivity, and build up an absurdly thick wall where there wasn’t one before.  Doesn’t sound like a good time, does it?

Not really.

So how does this happen?  How does someone (or an entire business) take something that was inherently created for good and make is so very not good?  Simple.  Here are just some of the things you should never ever do when emailing.

Hi! I’m a link!

It’s a horrible idea to send someone an email that has nothing in it besides a lone link or attachment.  It looks unprofessional and can lead to a whole mess of confusion.  Even if someone is expecting a link or attachment from you, don’t be afraid to address this expectation directly.  Here is the link you requested with regards to emailing at the office.

Hey there.  Hello…?  Anybody there?  It’s me again.

Don’t ever email a person multiple times regarding the same matter.  The only thing you will do is push this person into actually ignoring your emails.  If it’s an urgent situation, then you can send one reminder email under the guise of a follow-up, but that is it.  No more.

[Insert sarcasm here]

Under no circumstances should you ever be rude or sarcastic in an email.  There should be no arguing, no bickering, and no back-and-forth he-said-she-said.  These concerns should always be hashed out in person.  The longer you drag issues out via email, the bigger the problem will become.

We’ve decided to go in a new direction.

People read things differently, and one misplaced comma can make a world of difference to the reader.  If there’s a new project or if an old project is changing, pick up the phone and deal with it that way.  Don’t attempt to explain it via email because odds are, they won’t get it.

I can do it – versus – I can’t do it. 

It’s so incredibly important to reread what you write, even if it is only one or two lines long.  One wrong word can create just as much confusion as that misplaced comma.  And, plus, you want to look professional, right?  Proofread your work.

This happened, and then this happened, and then some more stuff happened.

If you find yourself on paragraph number six and there’s more to come, just stop.  Delete the email (or print it out and frame it) and pick up the phone.  You should try to keep your emails as short as possible – up to three paragraphs, with 3-4 sentences each.  No one will read anything longer than that, and if they do, they’ll only remember half of it.