How To Email Like a Professional: Advice From The Former CEO Of Google

He probably knows what he's talking about, so listen up

Whether to write ‘Best wishes’ or ‘Kind regards’ may seem like the biggest email dilemma of your day, but according to Google executive chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt, there are nine big minefields to watch out for in the complicated world of email.

In his new book, How Google Works, featured in a Time article, Schmidt talks about the importance of emailing like a professional – and how to make sure you’re doing the right e-thing at all times.

1. Respond quickly

Schmidt advises that you should known as a person who responds quickly – not just to select colleagues, clients or managers, but to everyone. ‘Being responsive sets up a positive communications feedback loop whereby your team and colleagues will be more likely to include you in important discussions and decisions, and being responsive to everyone reinforces the flat, meritocratic culture you are trying to establish,’ he says. Responding with simple words like ‘got it’ and ‘proceed’ sends a clear message while saving hours in time.

2. Be succinct

Surprisingly, sending a short, crisp email takes more time than writing a lengthy one – because you’re actually thinking about what you have to say, and deleting anything unnecessary. Schmidt quotes the words of late novelist Elmore Leonard on what it takes to become a successful writer: ‘I leave out the parts that people skip’. Do this with your emails.

3. Delete, delete, delete

There’s no point hoarding emails for weeks on end. Schmidt says you should remember the acronym OHIO – Only Hold It Once. ‘If you read the note and know what needs doing, do it right away, otherwise you are dooming yourself to rereading it, which is 100 percent wasted time,’ Schmidt says. ‘If you do this well, then your inbox becomes a to‑do list of only the complex issues, things that require deeper thought (label these emails “take action,” or in Gmail mark them as starred), with a few “to read” items that you can take care of later.’

4. Remember LIFO

This stands for Last In, First Out. Deal with the emails at the top of your inbox first, as sometimes the older ones have already been taken care of by a colleague.

5. Think about rerouting

This phrase isn’t just for cars, according to Schdmit. ‘When you get a note with useful information, consider who else would find it useful,’ he says. ‘At the end of the day, make a mental pass through the mail you received and ask yourself, “What should I have forwarded but didn’t?”’

6. Think before BCCing

Before you BCC someone into an email, always ask yourself why you’re doing it. ‘The answer is almost always that you are trying to hide something, which is counterproductive and potentially knavish in a transparent culture,’ Schmidt advises. ‘When that is your answer, copy the person openly or don’t copy them at all.’

7. Don’t yell

Capitals are a no-no for professional emails. ‘If you need to yell, do it in person,’ Schmidt says. ‘It is FAR TOO EASY to do it electronically.’ Noted.

8. Make things easy

When following up on requests, make it easy for yourself by coping yourself into emails and labelling the note ‘follow up’. Schmidt says this makes it ‘easy to find and follow up on the things that haven’t been done; just resend the original note with a new intro asking “Is this done?”’

9. Think of the future

Help your future self out by forwarding emails you think you may want to use at a later date with keywords that describe its content. Schmidt also recommends doing the same thing with important documents – simply scan passports, licenses and health insurance cards and email them to yourself with descriptive keywords so you can find them easily in an emergency.

Will you use some of this advice when sending your next email? Let us know @marieclaireuk

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