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How Engineers Can Overcome “Email Anxiety”

A short guide to confidently writing efficient emails.

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Writing emails might be the most mundane task for everyone living in the digital era.

But at the same time, it’s also one of the most terrifying things to compose.

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Why? Well, there are quite a number of reasons behind it. First of all, there’s the recipient of the email.

It could be a boss or a supervisor we look up to or are absolutely terrified of. Maybe even a difficult client or that one coworker whom you hate.

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Then there’s the tone of the email. Without all of the body language and enunciation that comes with face-to-face conversation, it’s very easy for digital text to be read in a way that comes across as rude or malicious, even if we don’t mean it to be.

Finally, there’s the purpose of the email. It can be anything from an email to call in sick to an important business proposal, but no matter what it is, the thought of screwing it up is nerve-wrecking.

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So with all of these factors you have to take into consideration, how do you write an email? Well, we’re here to help. Chris Chong, founder of SumoStory says that the first thing to think about is to “Write the e-mail [pretending] that the person you are writing to is in front of you.

I’ll often read a sentence from my e-mail aloud if I think that the tone comes across as ambiguous. If it is work related, you should keep the tone formal and serious. It’s better to be conservative but polite when writing work e-mails.”

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Next, in order to tackle that problem of tone, you have to remain polite but professional. Always get straight to the point, as most busy people get hundreds of emails per day. Just start with a short greeting, and then move on to what you want to ask.

Make sure to soften your words a little bit though, as being too blunt might come off as hostile.

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Then, you have to make sure that your email is as short as it can be, whilst still keeping all of the main points of the email.

“If there’s more information that needs to be contained in the email, write a short summary of the information in the body text and attach a Word document to the email with the full details,” adds Chong.

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Finally, once you do finally send that email, don’t be scared if the recipient hasn’t responded.

“If someone hasn’t replied to you it’s mostly because they were too busy to respond, and they need a short follow up email,” says Chong. “a short and friendly reminder, something like ‘just a gentle follow up on my email below.

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What do you think of X?’. And if they still haven’t replied, send them another reminder every 2-3 days.”

While this may not be a complete guide to writing the perfect email, it’s a good place to start. Now go, conquer the world and write that email you’ve been dreading to send!


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Engr. Paige Peterson
Angel Investor & Director at GineersNow. MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management. Electrical engineer from Uni of Melbourne. Strong Aussie girl living in Sunny California. Follow me on Linkedin


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