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Communicating Via Email - Part Two

Formal Communications

Aug 18, 2000

Are you sufficiently recovered from ol' Posty's revelation about how Mr. and Mrs. Posty met? Good. . .I'm glad that we have been able to share that part of ourselves with each other! :}

Meanwhile, we have a task at hand. . .talking about how to communicate effectively via email in more formal situations.

As you may remember from my last article, we thoroughly covered how to communicate informally, but you might be surprised to learn that most of the same principles apply, only with a slightly different slant. Here are my top tips for efficient and effective formal email communication:

Don't Rush!

Just like in informal communication, there is a great danger in assuming that your correspondent will be able to "fill in between the lines" of a short or cryptic email. This often happens as many of us have tons of email to answer daily and simply dash off a short reply assuming that our full meaning will be apparent.

As always, make sure that you re-read your email from the perspective of your correspondent before sending it to avoid misinterpretation. Taking a few moments to make sure everything sounds like you want it to can avoid heaps of problems later.


This is absolutely necessary in all types of communication! If something is very important, don't take any chances ... clarify your expectations, understandings, plans, etc. with a rephrase or statement. For example:

"Since you have expressed an interest in meeting with Bob and Sandy at some point, should I include them in our lunch meeting at 1:00 at Piatti's tomorrow?"


"I understand that you want the Projections Report faxed to your office by 3:00 Friday, and we will make sure that it is done."

It may seem like overkill, but when you are forced by circumstances into writing something really important, you want to make sure that you don't miss any detail.


An extension of Clarifying is to Confirm. Always make sure to restate the important details back to the originator so that you are absolutely sure that you have all of the details right. People often mistype a number or name, so repeating it back to them in another email gives them a chance to correct the error.

Be Honest!

It is easy to blow someone off by promising to reconnect next week or to meet really soon, but if you have no intention of doing so, you are eroding your professional integrity. Make sure you only promise what you can deliver and then follow through!

Be Professional!

Treat each email with the same seriously and professionalism you would in any other formal situation. This is not the place for acronyms or smileys. . .keep your writing short, clear, to the point, and always, always professional.

Well, that should about do it. . .keep these principles in mind when you use email for formal correspondence and you should be in good shape.

Until next time!

Previous Posty's Notes:

  • Aug 04, 2000 - "Communicating Via Email, Part One" - Informal Communications
  • Jul 28, 2000 - "Unified Messaging Systems"
  • Jul 21, 2000 - "What's In A Name"
  • Jul 14, 2000 - "A Study on Excellence" -'s Select Sites
  • Jun 30, 2000 - Personal Information Managers
  • Jun 16, 2000 - Free Online Invitations
  • May 26, 2000 - Free Email, Past, Present & Future
  • May 01, 2000 - Relaunch of


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