Writing Skills For DBAs: How To Write Emails That Get Read And Answered
Everyone thinks their emails are great…until they realize the opposite.
Our jobs, as DBAs, require good writing skills, which implies the ability to write good emails. Are we all good at writing emails?
I receive lots of emails at work, and many times the writing is so bad, I wish I was the Outlook Administrator, who could delete the sender’s email from the address book.
How does one get better at writing emails?
First of all, become aware of your writing. Read some of your own emails, and see if you could improve them.
Second, by conscious practice. The more you do something (the right way), the better you get at it. That is what I tell my 8 years old daughter too.
No one will wake up one morning, with exceptional writing skills, or with any other skills whatsoever.
What do I mean by conscious practice?
Writing an email is not just dumping your thoughts on a digital piece of paper, especially at work. You need to write your ideas down, read them prior to sending, make corrections, re-read, make corrections…until your email makes sense to you.
Always ask yourself: Does the reader have a full picture of what I am trying to say? Does the reader understands my idea? What would the reader ask me? What information am I missing in the email?
Do you want your coworkers to read your email, and respond to it? I bet you do! Why would you otherwise write them?
I’ll share with you 3 things I always check when writing emails, things you can implement too, and get result right away!
1. Relevant Subject Line
I cannot emphasize enough how important this is!
Never ever write an email where the subject line references a situation not related to the request in the email body.
Do you know who writes emails like this? Lazy people. They just pick the last email you sent them, and reply to it, with a completely unrelated issue.
Don’t be that person. We all know, DBAs are not lazy. Next time you write an email, start with a fresh one, and have a meaningful subject line.
2. Email Body Composition: Beginning – Middle – End
Now that we covered the subject line, it’s time to focus on the email body. As any type of writing, your email needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end.
What do you write in each section?
You need to provide enough information for your reader, to make it easy for them to do what you want them to do.
Your reader wants to help you, what your reader doesn’t want is more work. They don’t want to search through tickets, they don’t want to keep emailing back and forth until they understand what you want.
Your email body should provide as much information as possible.
In the introduction, present the situation, the problem, or the case. Why are you writing in the first place.
"We have received a large amount of tickets where the RMAN backup fails with the same error." (this states the problem)
"As we had many user termination requests, I thought to make our lives easier, and created a script for all of us to use." (this is an information only email)
In the middle of the email present the main idea, problem/solution, description.
"The error that I have noticed is the following: RMAN-03002: failure of backup command at 02/08/2016 22:48:44 ORA-00230: operation disallowed: snapshot control file enqueue unavailable I am investigating this error."
"The script is called drop_user_all_dbs.sh and is located here: /usr/oracle/scripts/drop_user_all_dbs.sh. To run: /usr/oracle/scripts/drop_user_all_dbs.sh $USER_NAME"
The email needs to close with an action item for the reader or with a conclusion, depending on the purpose of your email. Are you asking the reader to do something for you, or is your email an information only?
" If any of you encounters similar errors to the one above, please assign the ticket to me. Greatly appreciated!" (you are asking your reader to take an action)
" I encourage you to use the script, and let me know if anything needs to be improved. I am open to ideas!" (this is just an information only)
3. Spell Check
With today’s technology, there is no excuse for misspelled words in a professional email. Remember: the email is a reflection of you.
An email full of grammar and spelling mistakes, proves that the writer does not pay attention to detail.
For those DBAs, who’s English is the second language, (same as for me), a good idea is to ask a colleague to review your email and provide feedback. After a few times, you’ll get the hang of it!
One last thing!
Prior to pressing the send button, please, please, read your email, and make corrections if needed!
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