Communication Series: 11 Tips for More Effective Email Communications

Posted on Mon, Nov 21, 2016
Communication Series: 11 Tips for More Effective Email Communications

Part 2 of a two-part series. Read Part 1.

By Ginger Wirth, RN

Earlier this month we discussed how modern communication techniques like email and texting can lead to intended communication issues.

The following are 11 tips to help ensure that your message is received and understood the way that you intended:

  1. Do NOT reply to all. Whether it’s business or personal communication via group or mass email, the recipient should never reply to all unless it specifically states to do so in the body of the email.

  2. There are times when an informational email will be sent out as an FYI. Most of the time these emails do not require any response.

  3. If there is a mass inquiry asking for a policy, opinion or other resource, in general the receiver should only respond back to the original sender. If others in the email thread would also like the answer or information, he/she should respond to the original sender asking to have the response shared with them. All too frequently “reply to all” is clicked and instantaneously your inbox is filled with “me too” or “I would like that as well.”

  4. It is courtesy to respond to email requests for information within 24 hours if possible. If you will not be able to meet that guideline, you should use your “Out of Office Assistant” and let others know that your response may be delayed.

  5. If you as the sender require information back within a specific timeline, that needs to be clearly stated in the subject line or within the first few sentences. Also, if the response should be communicated to the entire group, that also should be articulated in the body of the email/request.

  6. Email should be similar to a conversation. Take the time to have some sort of greeting at the beginning and a salutation at the end. Using a keyboard is no excuse for lack of common courtesy.

  7. Review what you’re writing before you hit the “send” button. Once you have hit that button, your communication is out there in cyberspace and there is a slim chance that you will get it back before it is read by the other party. Also make sure that you have the email addressed to the correct person prior to sending/replying/forwarding.

  8. Use “Thank You” replies sparingly. Although it’s always encouraged to be courteous, it’s not always necessary to say thank you back to someone who provides what you asked for.

  9. Make sure that you’re using “high priority” appropriately. Not every message should be tagged as needing an immediate response. If that’s the case, consider picking up the phone and having a conversation verbally.

  10. Acknowledge responses when appropriate. If you ask an individual for information or to complete a task, once that task is completed or you have the requested information, make sure that you communicate, at a minimum, that you’ve received the information and let them know if you need anything additional or you have all that you need.

  11. Understand your electronic audience. If you are communicating with Administration, your wording should be more formal. Save the informal, relaxed communication with your peers and personal email.

Ginger Wirth

Ginger Wirth, RN, joined EmCare in 2013 as a Divisional Director of Clinical Services for the Alliance Group. Her goal is to make positive changes in healthcare by helping others focus on quality, excellence, and the overall patient experience. Wirth regards her role as Director of Clinical Services as the ideal opportunity to partner with nursing, physician and facility leaders to make positive changes to the entire patient care experience. Her 20-plus year nursing career has been dedicated to quality and excellence, promoting overall positive outcomes and safety for patients.

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