Stay Away From These Four Unprofessional e-mail Habits

Tue, Apr 5, 2011 --

Skill Sharpener

And do not make this career-limiting move

You may interact with your clinicians and back office colleagues in person, however they also get to know you – and judge your performance – over less immediate interactions like e-mail, project management software, and EMR messaging systems.

I have made some career-busting mistakes over email; as such I wish I could have read about these e-mail no-no’s from Robert Half International much earlier in my work life. Are you driving your co-workers and bosses crazy with email habits like these?

1.     You constantly mark emails as priority. You might use the priority flag to ensure that your teammates read your emails faster. However the truth is if it isn’t a true priority, your colleagues are just going to get annoyed. As you keep unnecessarily flagging messages, eventually your teammates won’t believe that any of the messages you send are of importance. Just like the boy who cried wolf, your colleagues will start to ignore your truly important messages.

2.     Your messages are too long. Think of when you go to a meeting: It is difficult to remember everything the presenter says when it is a really long presentation, right? The same is the case for your email. If you overload your doctors with long emails and too much information, you are making your emails impossible to answer.

Tip: Writing a doctor query over email or your EMR system? Stay brief and to the point.

If you have got a lot of information to cover, skip the long email and schedule a face-to-face meeting.

1. You always hit ‘Reply All’ button. This can be distracting for your colleagues as you are probably carrying a conversation with only one or two peopl; however you are including everyone else in the discussion. As a consequence, your teammates are bombarded with lots of email that they did not even need to see. Before you hit reply all, think of whom you are really replying to and who does not really need to see your message.

 2.  You send huge attachments. Be careful of large PowerPoint presentations or Excel spreadsheets, multimedia files and so on. Sometimes these files are too large for you to send through email, and you will end up clogging your teammates’ inboxes.

Robert Half International suggests, transmit files that are only 1MB or less. If you do have a large file that you need to send to your teammates, burn it onto a CD and distribute it to your teammates or direct your teammates to the file’s place on your server.

One final tip: Remember that any email you send can be forwarded to someone else. I learned this lesson the difficult way when I was young and foolish – even more foolish than I arguably still am now.

Don’t-try-this-at-home cautionary tale: There was this teammate of mine who was a real jerk. However he was so slick, very few realized he was a jerk, at least initially. One day, one of Mr. Slick’s emails ticked me off. I was busy and tired, and I fired off a snarky response.

Mr Slick forwarded my email to the guy who was boss to us both. As my boss did not see the whole exchange and had not yet seen Mr. Slick’s true colors, I was the one who looked like an immature hothead. Because … I was.

What I learned: Do not send any email anywhere unless you are comfortable with any colleague or boss seeing it. Save ‘fierce conversations’ for face to face.

Parts of this article adapted from Successful Supervisor.


Barnali is a medical coding and billing writer at TCI who has worked in the healthcare industry since 2009. She holds a master’s degree in English literature and a diploma in advertising and marketing. She enjoys writing about ICD-10 and Medicare compliance.

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