Avoid the 3 Common Mistakes Leaders Make that Encourage Readers to Hit “Delete”

You can find lots of information on how to write better email subject lines and the embarrassing mistakes we can make (everyone has hit “reply all” it least once to unhappy results).

This is different.

It’s about not sleepwalking at your keyboard or phone when writing or replying to someone.

Yes: you’ve written millions of emails. And since your brain is trying to save you time and energy, it wants to take a shortcut and not pay too much attention. Let those fingers fly without having a pilot at the controls.

Every time you do that, you’re not being the conscious leader who gets results.

It also means you’re encouraging your readers to be unconscious about what you want to share or ask them to do, which quickly leads them to hit “delete” — and that rush of dopamine (a happiness neurotransmitter in their brains) for clearing something off their plate.

I think there are three big mistakes leaders make when we don’t take our email writing seriously. Here’s what they are and what to do instead.


How many times have you bristled when it was clear the email you were reading wasn’t written with you in mind? Or wasn’t easy to read? Or was unclear and you had no idea what to do next (so you got annoyed or did nothing)?

Spend that extra minute being thoughtful about what you’re creating, who is reading it, and how this will affect the receiver. And don’t forget to ask whether an email is the best way to reach out: would a call, a text, an IM or something else be better?

When you take care to write an email worth reading — with their needs or concerns in mind — people notice. This decreases the chances that your missive will end up in the deleted items folder before it even has a shot.