It’s a sad day when the only email you receive is one that you’ve sent to yourself. But as a GP Practice Manager your Inbox is likely to become full even if you turn away from the screen for a second. Some emails may be junk, others may be “urgent”’ and ‘important’. There are few things more irritating than finding that the recipient of my emails has read only the first line, or simply looked at the first question, leaving many other points and questions unanswered. We have all been guilty of doing it at one time or another.
Read now or later?
It can be difficult to differentiate between those you need to spend time on and those that you don’t. How can you determine whether to read it now, later, or not at all? Here are a few things to look for to help you weed out the time wasters:
- Is the email from someone you know? – First of all, you should be sharing your private email with your friends, not your business one. That being said, if you recognize the recipient it really is a good idea to give it a read as soon as you receive it
- Is it a response to an email you have sent? – They were courteous enough to respond to your question/inquiry; it’s only fair that you return the courtesy
- Do you need to share the email with others? – If you notice multiple recipients, it could mean that you will include others in your response. Replying promptly ensures that you are not holding anyone up
Keep emails brief, but not too brief.
The longer the email, the less likely someone is to read the lot. Most of us scan through the email looking for “keywords” that give us the general idea of the content and the majority of people have trained their eyes to look for specific nouns that tell them what it’s all about. Bolding or underlining keywords can be helpful for drawing attention to key points, especially if the email is going to be more than a few paragraphs long.
Keeping an email short but not too short is a fine balance. Too long and you run the risk of half of it being ignored, too short and it runs the risk of seeming abrupt. Sometimes limiting your reply to – say 100 words or less – is a fine skill.
Always keep it professional!
Never regard emails as a lower grade of communication. Writing an email for professional consumption needs to be given the same status as any other professional document. The type of conversational language that you might use in social media communications, for example, should not be par for the course in business communications, and using abbreviated phrases like “LOL” or “TTYL” is not in good taste. When you want to use colloquial language think twice about who is going to or may end up reading it. Your employer could be monitoring your emails, or the recipient may comment to your employer! Make effective use of your words, and enjoy sending and reading your emails.