Emailing has become a primary facet of business English communication – primarily for its role in the resolution of problems, the formulation of plans or the execution of decisions. Although holding a primary role in communicating internally within a company, externally with clients, investors and other stakeholders as well as supplementing face-to0-face interaction and phone conversations, business communication textbooks and education does not always highlight its role or impact explicitly. Furthermore, business communication textbooks tend to target native English communicators.
Depending on the following contexts, the way we write emails may ultimately change.
- Does the email precede or follow a face-to-face or telephone interaction
- Does the email reflect first-point of contact or summarize previous discussions
- Is the email being sent as an internal email to colleagues or external email?
With internal emails, information can be provided in a more direct or straight forward form such as point-form. Although consideration regarding status and social distance still play a role in word choice and grammatical formality, internal emails are generally less formal than external emails. External emails are typically lengthier and/or more careful/formal because you are representing the whole company ,whereas in internal messages you are representing yourself.
When gauging the language and content of your next client email, follow your client’s lead. If they write in a very polite manner, you reply politely. But if they write only two or three sentences, then you can reply more simply.