email mistakes that make you look unprofessional at work

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#1 Using an informal nickname on someone you don’t know 
Unless you’re on close terms with a person and know that they are comfortable with that nickname, it’s generally a bad idea to refer to or even “create” a nickname or a shortened name that the other person isn’t using for themselves. It doesn’t matter if the person you’re emailing is above or below you in the pecking order, you are still going to come across as being disrespectful. If in doubt, it’s a good rule of thumb to refer to someone using the name they themselves use to sign off. 

#2 Thinking people will be able to decipher your tone
Whether your reply is meant to be humorous or sarcastic (never a good choice for a work email), it’s not easy to deduce someone’s tone through written communications. While instant messaging has emojis that make it easier to convey emotion, it’s probably best to avoid using said emojis in straight-laced work emails. You should never assume the other person will correctly interpret your attempt at humour, so it’s best to avoid it altogether and be as clear as possible in your intention.

#3 Hitting send before you’re ready
This one happens to the best of us, especially when your email somehow sends at the press of the “enter” key. Sometimes you forget an attachment, other times you’re caught quite literally in mid-sentence. Either way, if you’re crafting an email to someone, you can fill in the body of the email before adding the recipients names. This safety net might not work when you’re replying to emails, but hey, diligence is a valuable trait you should cultivate anyway. 

#4 Using an informal greeting
Depending on your office environment and relationship with the person you’re emailing, how you start and end the email is important and affects the way people see you. The words “hi” and “hello” are more formal than “hey”, but the most formal of all is to begin your email with “Dear X,”. If you’re new to a workplace, always start with the more formal option and let other people set the tone before you recalibrate your greeting. Similarly, when emailing potential clients or professionals out of your company, stick to the more formal greeting until you’re familiar with them.

#5 Writing in text-speak
Professionalism aside, competency is another factor determined by the way you present yourself in an email. If you find yourself using text-speak in the course of your work emails, keep that in check. Something like “k thx” in response to someone is both disrespectful and demonstrates a lack of written communication skills. Text-speak was invented to keep messages within a character limit, so it’s best left to informal social media accounts or text messages. There’s no need to use big pretentious words, but it’s a good idea to always use full sentences and spell out your words in full in work emails. 

#6 Simple spelling mistakes
On the subject of spelling out words, simple spelling errors are an unprofessional slip (and common pet peeve for some). It’s especially important if you’re in a field that values good writing, but job scope aside, taking the extra 20 seconds to read through your email before sending it or running it through a spell checker are important practices to cultivate.