How to Write Email That Works for Sane, Online Discussion

Do your emails get you into arguments or misunderstandings? Find out how to write email, especially business email, to keep online communication factual and calm.

Stever Robbins,
Episode #257

How to Write Email That Communicates Facts

Once you’ve eliminated personal attacks, put your attention on something more subtle: personal facts. If you are stating facts you expect the other person to know, speak in terms of yourself and your understanding. “You obviously never got the memo that our budget is only $5,000 this year” becomes “My understanding is that our budget is only $5,000 this year.”

See Also: Writing Good E-mail Subject Lines

You’re doing this to reduce the attack factor, but you’re also doing this because there’s an itsy-bitsy, teensy-eensy chance that they might be right and you might be wrong. If they disagree, you can ask to compare sources.

“No,” they write, “our budget is $7,000.” You now write, “Huh. I’m puzzled. I thought it was $5,000. I’m going off the memo dated February 1st from Rajo.” They respond, “I’m going off the February 7th memo from Yukari.” Guess what? You’re both right. Now you can go find Raja and Yukari and get to the bottom of the situation.


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