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  4. Effectively emailing your supervisor

Effective email communication with your supervisor

Here are some useful tips to improve your email communication with your supervisor! 

  • Many supervisors receive hundreds of important emails a day. This means some emails will get missed or might remain un-opened for a few days.
  • To catch your supervisor’s attention, use an actionable subject line, for example ‘Revised grant: approve by COB.’
  • Give enough context in the subject line to remind your supervisor of your last interaction, for example ‘Revised grant attached with your feedback from the meeting.’
  • Try to keep your email as brief as possible. Use clearly named attachments for detailed information.
  • Separate your ideas and responses with spaces. A large block of text is difficult to read.
  • Summarise key details from your last conversation about the subject, and also emphasise the main point of the email. Don’t be afraid to use dot points!
  • Write longer emails on your computer rather than your phone. It is much easier to write, read and understand longer emails on a larger screen.
  • Sending gentle reminders ensures emails return to the top of your supervisor’s inbox.
  • When responding to your supervisor, focus on the issues or questions raised in your supervisor’s email and respond to those issues. Don’t wander off topic.
  • Be clear and respectful in stating a reasonable deadline for a response, for example ‘I’m mindful that you are preparing for a conference next week, but if possible could you please respond to this email by Monday, at the latest?’.
  • Don’t feel pressured to reply to an email immediately. If you become upset by an email from your supervisor, it’s okay to wait a bit before responding.
  • Remember, email is documentation so always keep emails with your supervisor professional.

Need assistance with drafting a tricky email? Our caseworkers are happy to help! Contact us for advice.

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Written by SUPRA Postgraduate Advocacy Service March 2023

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