Do you have to write English emails for work, and does it stress you out? As companies become more international it is more common than ever to send and receive emails across countries. If you are worried about it: take action! Here's some tips for better emailing:
1. Find the Right Tone
You might be confident about your understanding of English grammar, but are you confident about the tone of your emails? This can take a while to get right, and it depends on the cultural norms of the country, the company and the person.
Are you writing to someone based in the UK or US? In many British and American companies, coworkers write emails in a casual tone because it is seen as more friendly - no matter how senior you are in the business. However, even if an email begins with "Hi!" and ends with "Thanks!", you have to remember it's not a chat between friends. Look closely at the British and American emails you receive; let this inform your own tone. If you are too formal it might be a barrier to a better working relationship.
Are you familiar with the "company culture"? Not all companies will have the same tone in their emails: it depends on the business and the industry. Some companies will be extra casual, and some will be completely formal.
Are you writing to another non-native speaker? If this is the case, formality can be more important. Native speakers are used to writing casual emails - particularly younger people - but it is better to be cautious if you are writing to a non-native and you don't want your attitude to be lost in translation.
Who are you writing to? In any language, you should think about the age of the person you're writing to, their seniority in the company, and if they are a stranger, client, acquaintance or familiar colleague. Remember - if you are unsure, mirror the other person's tone.
2. Ask a Native Speaker for Help
Have you ever asked a native speaker to check some of your emails? You don't need someone to check everything you write, but take their feedback and apply it to future emails.
Remember to ask not just for grammatical corrections, but also for feedback on tone, and how your emails come across. Does it match the image of yourself you want to convey?
You will always find someone who is happy to help! Most people appreciate how hard it is to perfect your language skills, and they will be impressed at your willingness to examine your abilities.
3. So you need examples...
My own go-to email greeting for someone I don't know, and people I do know, is "Hi [first name]" and it's suitable for any colleague. If you are writing to clients or customers, you can check with your company to see how formal the greeting should be.
Otherwise, the internet is full of email greeting examples, and you can choose the ones which sound right to you. But remember the most reliable place to research is your own inbox, and the English emails you've already received.
4. So you need reassurance...
Anyone who works for an international company regularly receives emails from all over the world, and nobody is judged for small grammatical errors. If your email is mostly correct, and in the right tone, you are communicating successfully!
Remember: consider your audience, ask for feedback, and don't stress!