A simple trick that will greatly improve your emails

There are more ways to communicate today than ever before. From text messages and phone calls to Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, SecondLine, WhatsApp, GroupMe, Line, and a million competing apps in between, reaching people far and wide has never been easier. Still, none of these methods of communications are as efficient in the world of business as email. Each and every day hundreds of millions of emails are sent all over the world, and the vast majority are attempting to convince the reader to take action of some kind. Does your message stand out? We hope so.

With the right search query, you can uncover countless articles written with the sole intent of helping you craft better emails. Most of these include information you have heard your entire life, like using link shorteners to track clicks or using the receiver’s name in the message. These tips are great, but they mean very little if the receiver does not read beyond the first few words of your message.

Recent research has found that many people stop reading an email after just a few words if they do not immediately feel engaged. There is no secret combination of words and phrases to guarantee engagement that quickly, but there is evidence to support the word that should be avoided, and that word is ‘I’. The use of ‘I’ gives the impression you, the sender, are more important than the recipient. It says “you are expected to do this” and/or “you need to listen to me because I am above you.” This kind of language may work in an office where ranking dictates who must follow orders and who dictates what the orders are, but in most interactions that faux hierarchy does not exist.

You must learn to think through an issue and frame the conversation in the receiver’s context (rather than your own). This not only makes the receiver feel recognized and important, but it allows your request to be received as something you both need to do in order to move forward. You’ve heard the old adage about how there is no “I” in “Team” and the same logic applies here. You want the receiver to feel you are writing as a teammate, someone who is working with them to complete a mutual goal.

All great leaders understand it is not their leadership alone that makes a team or company a success, but rather the cumulative effort of everyone involved. A great leader takes interest in their team. They make everyone else feel as important as they are because they realize their goal cannot be realized without every individual’s participation. When we lift one another up everyone is able to succeed, and the process of uplifting begins with communication.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.