A very special coaching client of mine recently reshared Alex Brogan’s LinkedIn post where he shared Kabir Seghal’s wisdom on “Writing Emails like a Boss” – it was excellently put and very aligned with the business writing work we do with professionals to elevate their brand, get things done and report in ways that make a difference. Let’s learn from Kabir Seghal and use his military wisdom to take Key Steps to…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’

  1. Make your SUBJECT LINE count. Everyone knows that the subject line can make or break emails. By using key words in their subject line, the military excels. Here’s some great ideas:SIGN: Requires a signature.
    DECISION: Requires a decision.
    COORD: Requires coordination with the sender.
    REQUEST: Asks for permission or approval.
    ACTION: Requires the recipient to take action.
    INFO: For information only, and no response or action required.In our office we use three dominant keywords in subject lines (ACTION, FYI, URGENT) that work for us. We also have rules to divert ACTION emails to a specific folder. Consider the key words that you can use to make your message stand out and significantly increase efficiency.
  1. Be BRIEF. Shorter emails are not only better but more likely to be read. Aim to use as few words possible while conveying the message accurately. Try to fit everything into one “screen” to prevent the recipient scrolling too much. We want to avoid TLDR (in case you don’t know what that is, it means “too long, didn’t read”).
  2. Write in ACTIVE VOICE. The Airforce manual says, “Besides lengthening and twisting sentences, passive verbs often muddy them.” This is true for business communication too. Active verbs will make your emails clearer and briefer.
    PASSIVE: The reporting shall be completed by our team (OR worse… Completion will happen in due course).
    ACTIVE: We will complete the report by [enter date if necessary].
  1. Apply BLUF. This is “Bottom Line Up Front.” Start with crux. Don’t leave it for the end or worse for the reader to try and figure out after wading through the email. A BLUF distils vital information in one or two sentences. It leaves no confusion about what is being said or requested. For example:
    Please approve the below project timeline by close of business on Friday.

Although you might not change everybody in your organisation and get them to understand or follow BLUF (unless they attend our training 😊), you can become known as an impactful communicator and get your emails read.

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’


NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.

Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.

Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to hold the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.

Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’