Common Email Mistake #4: Not Taking Out The Garbage

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Hans Hofman

A significant number of emails are riddled with garbage: meaningless words and cliché statements that do not provide clarity or a compelling reason to read on.

Here are some examples, real emails that have been received and forwarded to me by clients, colleagues and all those who share my dislike for – yet fascination with – terribly written emails.

Garbage 2

As mentioned in previous posts, when you use “just” you may as well write “This isn’t that important…no reason for you to respond.” And recipients don’t care what you “wanted” to do, only what you want. For that matter, they don’t care what you’re “wondering” about, either.

Garbage 3

“Quickly” is meaningless in an email. Obviously, it was written quickly, but if the intention was to indicate that reading it wouldn’t take very long…well, too late.

Garbage 4

This is an example of visual garbage; a vain attempt to add significance to jargon through the overuse of highlighting. Secondly, unless it’s a specific request, asking questions in an email is a fool’s game. Recipients won’t answer them.  And as to the salutation, how does the sender know when the email will be read?

Garbage 6

Partner? Oh, never mind, because that’s the least of the problems with this one. First of all, there’s that pesky “just”. And then there’s the worn-out “touching base”. Don’t touch my base, don’t reach out to me, and for heaven’s sake, don’t threaten to give me a buzz. And why end the first sentence with a question mark? That ain’t no question, pal. And finally, if you must use an exclamation point, one will do just fine, thank you.

Here’s an assignment for you: review the emails in your “Sent” file, and see if you find any of these types of phrases:

Garbage 1

If you did, here’s your chance to turn over a new leaf. Make a vow to eliminate weak or unnecessary words and meaningless phrases.

Your email messages should be clear, crisp and on purpose. Anything that doesn’t serve the Purpose should go into the trash.

Next Time: Ending with Strength


Today’s Fact Cetera

On average, Americans now spend 92 minutes a day with their email.


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2 responses to “Common Email Mistake #4: Not Taking Out The Garbage

  1. Mark Nickel

    Thanks for all the free pointers. It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where communication is so important, but we are not taught any guidelines to allow that communication to be effective.

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