By: Guest Author, Virginia REALTORS® Specialty Programs Education Manager, Cailin Richardson

Have you ever received an email from an agent filled with misspellings and incorrect punctuation? Frustrating, right? We spend so much of our time writing emails, contracts, and text messages, that sometimes we forget how writing basics can make or break your success. Quality communication is a cornerstone of professionalism.

Before you begin to write an email, regardless of whether it is a reply or a new conversation, identify the message or point that you’re trying to convey before you craft your first sentence. Then, draft your message. Lastly, review it one last time for clarity, word choice, spelling, punctuation, and tone. Make sure to keep it brief too, as extra words clutter and fluff up your initial message. Depending on the situation (especially if you’re writing from a moment of anger, frustration, or are in a hurry) you might want to take a break before hitting the “send” button. By doing so, you can avoid embarrassment and possible future conflict.

When communicating with others via email, keep these few pointers from “Managing the Virtual Workforce” by Erika Tedesco in mind:

• Avoid attempts at humor, sarcasm, or irony. These are difficult to comprehend without visual cues, and misunderstandings can easily occur.
• Emoticons are cute on your smartphone but are not appropriate in the professional workplace. Leave the smiling face with heart-shaped eyes for your family and friends.
• Before you send the email, ask yourself, “Is this a sensitive issue?” If so, call rather than email.
• When in doubt, pick up the phone or video chat. Interaction in real time with vocal tone, body language, and facial cues go a long way toward correctly interpreting the other person’s reaction.

So, take it from the experts and communicate thoughtfully. We all thrive on praise and positive feedback. When in doubt, talk it out.