Red alert! Red alert! There has been an outbreak of a major plague. It’s highly contagious and is not so easy to contain. We are, of course, referring to the Great Bad Email Plague.
We’ve all been afflicted by it. Some have a more serious case of it than others. But there is a cure. To avail yourself of it, read on. But first, we must diagnose the symptoms.
Symptoms of the Great Bad Email Plague include but are not limited to the following:
Incorrect names or information
Taking forever to get to the point
Lack of a proper greeting
Long winded, rambling sentences
If you have one or more of these issues in your email writing, be warned. You might have a form of this disease. But do not fear. We have found a course of treatment.
The treatment is symptomatic. And it’s not easy. It takes a lot of your time and effort. But we promise you that it will all be worth your while.
Recommended Course of Treatment
Containing the Bad Grammar Symptom (also applies to the symptom “Spelling Mistakes”)
There are several ways to ease this symptom. The easiest, and simplest one, is to ask the resident Grammar Nazi in your circle to look over your email before you click send.
If the Grammar Nazi is sick, or is otherwise unavailable, use technology! There are plenty of software tools out there to solve grammar and spelling issues. (My favorite is Grammarly, which can be used as a browser extension.)
But these tools will only get you so far. To get yourself rid of the symptom, you must learn the correct grammatical rules. Once again, technology comes to the rescue. There are several free grammar teaching tools out there on the World Wide Web. One such tool is Grammar-Monster.
Treating the Symptom of Incorrect Names or Information
Here again, ask your favorite Grammar Nazi or proofreader to go over any email you send. If you don’t have access to one, double check or even triple check your content. (Pro tip: reading aloud your email is a great way to spot errors.)
Curing the Symptom of Taking Forever to get to the Point
One way to contain this symptom is to use to have a word or sentence limit. A word limit of around 100 words, or a five sentence limit seems a good way to go. Feel free to change the limit according to your needs, but please, no emails of a 1000 words or more! No one has the time to read that nowadays.
Alleviating the Lack of a Proper Greeting Symptom
Here is an extreme manifestation of this symptom. It’s an email I received from a prospective participant in one of our hackathons. (I’ve not mentioned the name of the hack since it’s unimportant. And to preserve anonymity.)
“Hey dude, wassup? What’s the story with the <hackathon name here>? How to submit our solution?”
Addressing unfamiliars in a familiar tone is a no-no. Stick with the tried and tested. Something like:
I have a query regarding the <hackathon name here>. Can you give me more details of when and how to submit the solution?
I have applied to the <hackathon name here>. Can you give me more details of when and how to submit my solution?
A warning note! The latter greeting style may come across as too old fashioned and grumpy. Use with caution.
Healing the Symptom of Long Winded, Rambling Sentences
This is a tough one to overcome. While there is no quick fix, the best way to recognize this symptom is by way of an example:
“Long winded, rambling sentences are the bane of the email receiver; in fact it can be said that most emails nowadays tend to put readers into a daze because the sentences take so long to parse that by the time the readers come to the end of the sentence, they forget what the sentence was all about.”
See how difficult that sentence was to read? A lot of people afflicted with the Great Bad Email Plague manifest this symptom.
It’s not that easy to cure. One way is to keep the following in mind:
Consider breaking up your sentences into several shorter sentences that are easy on the eye.
Here is a rewrite of the sentence above:
“Long winded, rambling sentences are the bane of the email receiver. Many emails tend to put the readers into a fog. This is because the sentences take a long time to parse. As a result, by the time the readers reach the end of the sentence, they forget what the sentence was all about!”
The Great Bad Email Plague is a debilitating disease. But you can control it if you follow the course of treatment outlined above. A word of caution! The disease is recurring, and can strike at any time. Pay attention to your writing, and all will be well.