Shirley's Articles / Email Essentials

Is Your Email Sending The Right Message?

I was really thrilled recently to learn that my book Email Essentials is the #1 book in the USA for publishers Marshall Cavendish International. What amazing news that was! This just shows that email is very much a part of our lives today. And I’m so glad more people are realising this and investing in my book to guide them daily.

It seems that when we get to work, one of the first things we do is check our email. This seems an essential step in setting our pace for the rest of the day. However, even though email has become an integral part of most people’s world, email messages can often be misinterpreted. Why is this? Well, when we have a face-to-face conversation, different parts of our brain separate it into words and ‘melody’ to understand the intonation, mood, emotion, etc.

However, your brain can’t do this when you are reading words on a screen, because often, the underlying messages can get lost or be misinterpreted. This is why it’s really vital to pay attention to both the words you use and the way those words may be understood by the reader.

Different ways of saying the same thing

Naturally, our brains register words and phrases differently, and this could in turn set off emotional triggers in the reader. This is why writing emails needs careful consideration and effort, in case the words we choose send off the wrong signals and message.

Here are some different messages. Which one would you like to receive?

  1. “I’m swamped right now. I can’t talk.”
    “I’m sorry but I’m busy right now. Can we speak tomorrow morning?”
  2. “That draft proposal is so confusing. Let’s talk and get it fixed.”
    “I have some questions about your draft. When can we discuss this?”

The more emails you write (and read), you will find out what works and what doesn’t. By reflecting like this, you will learn how best to express your ideas in a way that the reader understands and gets the best results.

Good writing sets you apart

Changing your writing habits and style will take time and effort, but the benefits and rewards will be great. You’ll save time, you’ll save your reader’s time, your reader will understand, you’ll get the right response. Perhaps even more importantly, you’ll cut down all the ‘email ping-pong’ that goes on right now in many mailboxes!

Here’s to your email success!


To help you, I’ve put together a checklist of reasons why your writing style may not be working as effectively as it should.

This checklist also contains my top 10 strategies for improving the business writing style throughout your organisation.

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Shirley is an international bestselling author. She has established herself as a leading authority in email and business writing skills. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition sold over half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 17 languages. Her book Email Essentials reached #2 in the USA for publishers Marshall Cavendish International. Find out more about Shirley at

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