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Author: Helen Eagleton

Helen Eagleton, a freelance blogger from Boston, follows topics in the realm of education, technology, digital marketing, and business in general. When she’s not researching for her next article, she enjoys watching documentaries and exploring the nature. Reach her @eagleton_helen

4 Tips for Writing a Professional E-mail and Increasing Your Response Rate

Typical email inboxes contain an overwhelming number of messages from myriad sources. As a result, for any recipient, professional emails can get lost amidst a sea of newsletters, social media alerts, personal messages, and spam.

In other words, to get the attention you deserve, you must craft messages in ways that stand out. Otherwise, you risk having your emails ignored, overlooked, automatically deleted or filtered as spam by their intended recipients. Although such a daunting task might seem almost impossible, you can increase your email response rates by using the following tips.

1. Make Sure to Be Well Prepared

Preparation can lay a solid foundation for every email message that you send. To begin with, define the purpose of your email as well as your desired result. This step will help you keep your message focused. Additionally, you should consider your recipients and adjust your writing style in order to increase your chances of getting a response. Although some recipients might respond well to formal language, others might react better to a conversational approach.

Learn as much as you can about your recipients, including their names. After all, a personally addressed message can often accomplish more than generic communications. Moreover, you should always check your recipients’ social media streams to better understand their attitudes and communication styles. In case you are writing to an established customer, for example, you want to explain your proposal from their perspective so that they can understand how they will benefit from it.

2. Write an Appropriate Subject Line

Many spam filters and other automated processes often process messages based on their subject line. As a result, the fate of your email may often depend on this single element of your message. For one thing, you should avoid using any terms that email clients can interpret as spam. Words such as “free” and “buy”, for example, can often prevent an email from reaching its recipient.

As has been noted, personalization can also help. Rather than using spammy language, try phrases that indicate a personal gift to the recipient. Also, subjects that contain pithy statements or plays on words can also catch the eyes of a busy inbox owner. Meanwhile, certain types of correspondence may require a certain subject line, such as “Resume” for a job applicant. In such cases, your email will likely get lost if you don’t comply.

3. Wisely Choose Your Address and Platform

Choose a “sent from” email address that seems like a real person. After all, email addresses with lots of numbers and unusual characters have an unprofessional appearance that can turn off your recipients. In fact, such unconventional addresses can often trigger spam and automatic delete filters.

After choosing a professional sounding address for you as a sender, you must decide which platform to use to send your message. Tools such as Yahoo Mail and Gmail can often suffice for informal or casual correspondence. Although those have good security, many professionals, however, choose to use email programs such as Outlook because they can recall messages in case they contain an error. The key is to understand the benefits of each provider and choose the one that best meets your needs.

4. Pay Great Attention to Your E-mail Content

Typographical and grammatical errors reflect poorly on you as a professional. With this in mind, spend time proofreading your messages before sending them. When possible, get someone else to read your email before you click the “send” button. Of course, you can make the job easier by staying focused on your message.

You should have defined the purpose of your message in the planning stage of your email. As you write, begin by directly addressing your recipient and then writing with the intention of getting a desirable response. Also, organization matters, so number your points and, if necessary, break complex messages into several precisely focused stand-alone emails.

As you write, use short paragraphs and legible typefaces to improve readability. Also, write with an urgent but polite tone to avoid wordiness. Still, you should show empathy as you write by giving your recipients’ perspective in mind. Other ways to craft effective emails include limiting yourself to five sentences, using only short introductions, using the active voice, and conforming to a standard structure.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, you can get fantastic response rates from your professional emails when you invest some time into planning. In fact, simply by understanding your ideal customers, you can develop products and customize your sales, service and support strategies in ways to improve your overall business results.

Furthermore, an effective subject line can dramatically increase the chance of having a recipient actually open your message. Although the tools you use to craft and send your message can also affect its success, so does the quality of your writing. Ultimately, by using the above tips, you can consistently create professional emails that deliver desirable outcomes.

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How to Deal with Work-Related Stress

Many individuals feel at least a moderate level of stress while at work, and some feel overwhelming levels of tension and anxiety in the workplace that actually affect their health and their ability to focus on their tasks. As a business owner, it is important to understand how stress can negatively affect your business’s overall level of success. By doing so, you may determine that you need to actively look for signs of stress in your employees and actively foster a less stressful work environment.

How Does Stress Affect the Workplace

Stress may affect your business in many ways that you have not yet considered. This is one of the top leading causes of employee absence as well as a common reason for a low productivity rating. You rely on your employees to show up each day to complete critical tasks, and you also need them to feel happy, motivated and energetic toward their tasks.

In extreme cases, a high-stress environment or position can lead to a high turnover rate in your workplace. This can result in your business having to spend more time locating and training new employees, and you may also have productivity issues related to being insufficiently manned. Ultimately, issues related to turnover and absence can affect your ability to serve your customers well and in a cost-effective way. In some cases, such as if an employer is directly causing high stress levels, you may even be taken to court by your employees and held financially liable for medical expenses and more.

What Causes Stress and How to Recognize It

Clearly, you need to take control over how stressful your work environment is. To get started, you should understand the primary causes of stress and recognize signs of these issues in your workplace. Stress in the workplace is often caused by employees feeling as though the demands placed on them are too significant or that they are not properly trained to handle the tasks.

Some employees may feel stressed by your specific management style, by inconsistencies in the structure of the organization or about feeling unempowered to complete their required tasks. You may notice signs of stress in some of your employees, such as a change in their mood, concentration level or overall performance. Some individuals may call in sick frequently are start coming into the office later than normal.

Others may begin to work more hours than usual if they feel they have too much work to do, or they may begin to bicker with co-workers or managers more frequently because of a shorter temper brought on by high stress levels. In extreme cases, you may notice physical signs of stress in some employees, such as fatigue, complaints about headaches or nausea, shaking and more.

What Employers Can Do to Manage Stress

Now that you know more about the effects of stressed out employees and you have spotted the signs of high stress levels, you may be ready to take action. The ability to reduce stress in the workplace is critical to the overall success level of your business. There are a few steps that you can take to accomplish this goal.

  • Communicate and Acknowledge Stress: Setting up formal training sessions regarding stress can be effective. During these sessions, you can create an open environment to discuss stressors openly. You can also explore ways to decrease stress in the workplace and to help your employees unwind when they are away from the office.
  • Reduce Demands at Work: Incredible demands placed on employees can easily be a source of stress, so always set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-limited. You should also set reasonable work hours for your employees, and avoid assigning tasks that require them to work over-time. You should also have an accepting attitude toward requests for breaks and days off.
  • Be Flexible: Working remotely is a great option to consider when you want to reduce stress levels at work. Employees who work remotely have greater flexibility to handle personal and work responsibilities in a more convenient way. Telecommuting has been shown to reduce stress levels and to increase productivity, and you may consider allowing telecommuting on at least a part-time basis to all employees on a regular basis.
  • Improve Your Management Style: Your managerial efforts can play a key role in the stress your employees feel. For example, when you communicate effectively, your employees may understand their tasks better. Regular employee reviews can keep your team focused and motivated. You also should adjust your managerial style to regularly identify high stress levels in your team.
  • Promote a Healthy Lifestyle: The overall health of your team can also affect stress levels. Consider providing a discounted gym membership as a perk or benefit to encourage your team to be active and healthy. Create a healthy eating program or contest to focus their attention on their diet. You can also create a quiet space in your office where your team can go to relax when they feel overwhelmed by stress.

While stress is a common problem that affects many businesses and their employees, you can see that there are rather simple solutions available to help you combat the problem in your workplace. Now is a great time to begin looking for stressors in your workplace and making effective changes.

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Your Life is Stuck in a Rut? Here is How to Get Out

You know you’re in a rut when things feel meaningless and you start wondering about your life. Maybe your job is unsatisfying or your relationship has stagnated, or perhaps you just have not reached your full potential. The good news is that admitting you’re in a rut is the first step toward making changes. Let’s look at six way you can get out of that rut!

1. Explore Your Job Options

A dead-end job is one where you feel unhappy regardless of salary or any other circumstances in the workplace. If your job no longer challenges you, or you feel miserable at work, it’s time to start looking at other options.

Think about the dreams you have not pursued due to lack of time or courage. Now is the time to set aside all excuses and explore other employment opportunities. Go after that dream job you have always wanted, or consider opening your own business by doing something you never realized you could do.

2. Assess Your Relationships

Relationships are integral to life. Sometimes love and friendship empower us to be our authentic selves. Other times, a fizzled-out romance or a stale friendship holds us back from being our true self.

When you don’t enjoy a relationship, trying to maintain it will be difficult and can rob you of much needed time for yourself. If a relationship cannot be refurbished by talking things out, then it might be time to move on. Always make it a point to discard toxic relationships and surround yourself with positive and supportive people.

3. Shake Up Your Routine

If you are unsatisfied with your daily life, it might be time to step out of your comfort zone. Why not try something wild like zip-gliding through the redwoods? Or, if that’s too radical for you, start with small changes to your routine. There are some fun ways to do this.

Try exploring your local state park for new walking trails, or visiting that out-of-the way museum you often pass on your way to the market. How about hunting for a restaurant you have never eaten at, or ordering a new meal at an old favorite café? Even decluttering your office might do the trick. Small changes to your routine can lift your spirit in big ways.

4. Educate Yourself

Have you always wanted to learn to speak Italian, or to expand your knowledge about trains? What about learning to cook, or studying up on geography? No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to grow your education.

For the rest of your life, make time every day to nourish your spirit with knowledge. The internet has some great resources where you can educate yourself for free or with little to no money. Try taking a class at the local junior college or through adult education. Committing yourself to learning one new thing each day will enrich your life and boost your self-confidence.

5. Explore Your Horizons

How often do you get out into the world and meet new people and explore other cultures? No matter where you travel, or for how long, the experience can be life-enriching. Even if you live on a budget, you can travel without emptying your wallet.

Start your travelogue by taking a road trip in your own county or state to places you have never been. Or, if you want to travel abroad, consider doing so with others to save on expenses. The more you get out into the world, the broader your horizons become!

6. Be Brave and Relentless

All the things mentioned above are easier said than done. To be brave is to face your fears and challenge yourself, and relentless courage is what moves you toward your most authentic self. For any trait to grow, it must be nourished by stepping out of your comfort zone. The only way to find out if you can do something is to try, and trying takes bravery and relentlessness.

Conclusion

Trying to pull yourself out of a rut can be scary, and it’s never easy, but the process can be life-changing. Now is the time to explore new job opportunities, reevaluate your relationships, shake up your routine, educate yourself, explore new places, and be brave and relentless. Follow these tips and make life changes today!

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