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Potomac State College

Soft Skills for the Workplace (AFCS 491, BTEC 491, CIS 491, CJ 491)

Email with Etiquette

Poorly written and sloppy emails reflect badly on you, but more importantly, they reflect badly on your workplace. You could hurt the reputation of the company you are working for.

Here are five key tips to get you started:

  • Include a clear, direct subject line. Don't send messages without a subject line.
  • Use professional salutations. Address emails with: "Hi, Mr. Smith" or "Dear Mr. Smith,". Do not write "Hey Mr. Smith," or "Hey Joe!"
  • Proofread every message. Don't send messages with spelling and grammatical errors. Read over your email before sending, don't just rely on a spell-checker.
  • Write formally -- don't use text or chat abbreviations.
  • Never assume an email is confidential. Don't write anything in an email that could harm the company you are working for.

You NEED to read these resources:


Write Clearly & Concisely

Don't bury critical information! Writing concisely ensures you'll get your ideas and points communicated with your coworkers.

Here are four things you NEED to do to keep your writing clear & concise:

  1. Eliminate redundant, unnecessary, or vague words and phrases. Often a SINGLE word can be clearer than a phrase.
    • Wordy example: Each and every time you purchase a pizza at Sal's Pizza, you will earn points that can be exchanged for a free pizza. You will need to purchase five pizzas to earn enough points for a free pizza.
    • Concise example: At Sal's Pizza, you earn a pizza point with every pizza you buy! Five points equals a free pizza!
  2. Don't use weak adjectives. Was something very good or was it GREAT?
    • Weak example: He wrote a really lengthy and difficult to follow email.
    • Strong example: He wrote a long-winded email.
  3. Change negatives to be affirmatives. Writing negative sentences requires extra words and it's harder for readers to understand.
    • Negative example: If you haven't yet checked the mail, do not come to my office without first asking the secretary if you need to retrieve it.
    • Positive example: Before coming to my office, ask the secretary if the mail needs checked.
  4. Write in active voice not passive. Active voice is more interesting and engaging and often more concise!
    • Passive Example: The battle was won by zombies.
    • Active Example: Zombies won the battle.

 Here are two tools that will make it easier to write in an active voice:

Hemingway Logo

The Hemingway Editor checks your text for unnecessary adverbs, eliminates passive voice, proposes simpler alternatives, and identifies hard to read sentences.

Datayze Passive Voice Detector is another tool for checking for passive voice. It also helps you avoid getting attacked by Zombies! ;-)

Verbal vs. Non-Verbal Communication

We know we should be careful about what we say with our mouths, but what about with our bodies? Nonverbal communication is a huge part of everyday life (at least 65% of all our communication is nonverbal!). Minding nonverbal communication will make not only your customers happier but your co-workers and bosses too!

These two short videos can help you learn more about nonverbal communication. The first video shows you what nonverbal communication is; the second video will show you how it matters in the workplace.