Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

The Simple Way to Stop Annoying Every Professional Contact You Know

A logo with "the muse" in white text.

Isn’t it annoying when you take the time to send a well thought-out email to a co-worker laying out a project’s various problems and the possible solutions and get “Sounds good” or “Works for me” in response.

You probably react by screaming. Or wanting to scream, but instead staring at your computer in dismay. But knowing that, how often do you dash off fast responses in an effort to through all the unread messages?

Trust me when I say that I understand the drudgery that is your inbox. Just when you think you’re down to zero new messages, three more appear as if by magic. This is why you’re so quick to respond—typos, mixed messages, unanswered questions be damned.

But if you get so annoyed when someone does that to you—why are you doing it other people?

When you take shortcuts and merely browse a message before dashing off a hasty reply, you run the risk of seriously annoying your co-workers (or worse, clients). Instead of sending replies that threaten to make you appear lazy or frantic—neither is a winning characteristic—make an effort to show you’re paying attention.

It’s truly as easy as:

  • taking the time to read every message in its entirety
  • double-checking that you’re answering any questions
  • proofreading before you press send

And if you go beyond that and do something like lay out next steps or volunteer to follow up, you could be making your colleague’s day.

That’s the real secret to writing better email. By taking the time to fully read what’s in your inbox before shooting off a response, you’ll not only improve your reputation, but you’ll also save face with colleagues, clients, and your boss.

Photo of busy person courtesy of Dream Pictures/Getty Images.