The Do’s and Don’t’s of Digital Communication

Sarah McMahon
4 min readJun 15, 2020

[Listen to an audio version of this blog HERE.]

“Dear David,” I began my email. It was a copy-paste kind of email, highly impersonal and simultaneously necessary. Not all corporate communication can taste good, right?

I backspaced “David,” and wrote instead, “Dear Mr. So-and-So.” I’m not sure David and I are on a first name basis. I’ve never met him, after all, and some people like to take umbrage in such minor acts of familiarity. “Mr. So-and-So” seemed a bit stuffy though, and a bit difficult to justify, given that some men swing the opposite, and prefer first-name niceties. All this email was was a nicety, after all, a chirky but thoughtfully worded “How do ya do?” with the insignia of my employer emblazoned across my signature line.

Written communication leaves much on the table. Just the other day, I was in a foul mood and received a playful text from my boyfriend. I rolled my eyes and typed back a snarky reply before quickly backspacing and putting my phone down. I’d reply later, when my mood wasn’t so compromised. He had no way of knowing that his text was coming at a bad moment, and would be confused by a snarky reply.

Because I’m a writer, written communication has become the bane of my existence. If only everyone would adopt the oxford comma, all would be well in my world. Instead, I begrudgingly correct typos and grammatical errors, patiently awaiting the day when I simply care less. In the meantime, I’ve compiled a succinct and useful list of digital communication do’s and don’t’s. You can thank me later.

Do be concise.

There is nothing worse than a pages-long email or an enormous text message. You are not the next great American novelist. You are simply not making your point. Be succinct, and your chances of receiving a response exponentially increase.

Don’t be vague.

If you’re asking a colleague for something, don’t make them guess. Same is true of communications with friends or family. Written communication can be easily misinterpreted, so it’s best to be as direct as possible.

Do be consistent.

Someone named Zak Frazer said, “The key to success is consistency.” Profound…