Email is digital communication royalty. Despite the trends that may surface among various shifting social platforms, email is that one constant that has not budged over the last twenty years. Email habits, however, are a different beast. As the way we communicate and engage each other has become more dynamic (and more demanding), the subtle art of email seems to escape a higher number of people each year.

If you’re one of those people who feels they’re not every effective with email communication, consider that it could be because of your emailing habits. In a day and age where communication happens in remote micro moments, how you communicate can make or break your business success. So stop for a moment and take inventory of your email behavior to see if you’re guilty of any of these terrible email habits.

The Lazy Subject Line

The first mistake is not having a subject filled out. The second mistake is having a lazy subject line. Subject lines should never just be about the subject; it should be about the action and then the subject. So, for example if you’re sending over a document to review, your subject line should read like this… “For Review: ABC Project.” Include the action (for review) followed by the title of the project (ABC project).

The Trigger Happy Email

We’ve become so dependent on email communication that most of us now rely on email to communicate. While email is a great way to loop in multiple people in a conversation and to have a digital record of that communication, sometimes relying solely on email is a handicap. When dealing with customers, clients or even colleagues, its sometimes better to just pick up to phone or have a face to face conversation. The ability to decipher when to move past emails is a learned skill – but it’s an easy one to pick up. If you can tell the other person hasn’t fully understood what you’re saying, if they’re showing signs of frustration, or even if the conversation is taking a lot longer than it should – then it’s time to move on to another form of communication.

Not Mirroring Your Reader

People like doing business with those who have similar personalities. That said, if your reader is the somber type, then your emails should also reflect a somber tone. If your client loves happy faces in their emails, then go ahead and do the same. Successful email communication involves sharing just enough personality in emails without becoming unprofessional. Part of that art requires that you’re able to match the tone and context of your audience. Since email communication doesn’t include any affect that we’d find with tone of voice, body language and facial expressions, it’s really important to be able to learn how to communicate those things via email.

The Diary Entry

Emails were created for quick efficient communication. However, that purpose is lost when your emails read like a diary entry. It shouldn’t take your reader any more time than the length of the read to figure out what you’re trying to say. As a rule of thumb, get to the point quickly. Tell the reader what you’re emailing them about and what action you’d like them to take. Make it a priority to keep emails brief and to the subject. Underline or bold the action you want them to take or specific dates you need them to keep in mind. The easier you make it for others, the more success you’ll have with email communications.