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The art of sending emails is something you’ll come to master over time. From simple things like subject lines through to handy techniques like the “compliment sandwich”.

How you start and finish emails and the tone you take will depend on who you are emailing and your relationship with them. There is a lot of grey area to navigate, so use these tips as a guide.

Let’s dive into some examples.

What did you notice about the above email? What is the relationship between Rachel and Jessie? What is the tone of the email?

Starting an email

When in doubt, just say “hi”. Starting with “Dear” or “Hello” are slightly more formal, while “Hey” is something you might use with colleagues you are closer to.

Explain who you are, or how you know them

Have a one sentence introduction that establishes a) who you are, if you don’t already know the person, and b) why you’re emailing.

Keep it simple, keep it clear

Jessie did a good job of explaining what she needed and why. She also gave a specific deadline.

Mirror the tone

When you first email someone new, err on the formal side but pay attention to their reply. If they are more informal and use exclamation marks or sign off with ‘Cheers’, you can too.

Don’t use emojis

There’s no such thing as a formal emoji. Avoid them except with close colleagues.

Sarcasm doesn’t translate

Be careful when using humour or sarcasm in emails. Often it doesn’t translate in text and could land you in trouble.

What did you notice about the above email? What is the relationship between David and Steve? How would it make you feel if you were David? 

Err on the formal side

When it comes to sending work emails, it’s better to be more formal than less. Here we can tell that David and Steve work together. It might be that David is Steve’s superior or supervisor, so it’s better to be more formal. 

Include a courtesy

  • Hey Sam, how are you?
  • Hope you had a great weekend
  • How was your vacation?
  • Happy Friday!
  • Happy birthday for last week
  • Enjoy your weekend

These are all simple personal touches you can add to an email to help you further connect (and come across as human). 

Don’t hit “reply all”

If you end up working in a large company, no doubt you’ll receive some all company email updates. Don’t be that Boomer that hits “reply all” and floods the inbox.

How to use CC and BCC

You’ve sent emails before, surely. So you’ve seen the CC and BBC lines to put email addresses. But do you know what they are and how to use them? 

When to use CC

When you put someone’s email on CC it’s like you’re saying “for your information” or FYI. This person isn’t expected to reply, but the information is good for them to know. If you can’t do your job because someone else down the line missed their deadline, you might like to CC your boss as an FYI for why you’re behind on a project.

When to use BCC

BCC means the people on the email won’t see who else received the email. It’s handy to use when you’re sending out a bulk email or protecting the privacy of the recipients. Jessie the marketing person could use BCC to email a group of people requesting they send pictures for the website.

Double check attachments

Global statistics show that 50% of all emails that say “please find the document attached” actually have no documents attached. Okay, that’s a made up stat – but please, check your attachments.

Subject lines

Keep your subject line simple and clear, just like the body text.

Leave the emotion out of it

When Steve followed David up about work, he was clear and professional about his needs. He didn’t say “David, you sack of potatoes, where is the document I sent you over a week ago? How are you SO slow?”. 

Email techniques - the compliment sandwich

Sometimes you will have to give negative feedback or send spicy emails. The “compliment sandwich” is a technique to help you do that while still maintaining camaraderie and good vibes. Essentially, you sandwich the bad thing between two nice things. For example:

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