My wife works for a small software company. For months last year, the business struggled to stay afloat, and the entire staff knew that without new investment money the company would dissolve and everyone would be out of a job.

So imagine what the average worker thought when they read this subject line in an email sent by the CEO to the whole company:

From: CEO

To: All Employees

Subject: Closed.

The employees thought what you’re probably thinking — bad news. So they were shocked when they opened and read the email. Turns out, the CEO was enthusiastically announcing that a new investor had acquired the company. It was this company-saving deal that had “closed.” Not the company itself. Phew!

The point is, the CEO’s email subject could have given any of his employees a cardiac event. Had he simply stopped to consider how they might read it — that the day they dreaded had finally come, and the business was shutting down — he might have used a different subject line. Maybe something like, “Great news on the financing front!”

Always try to think like your reader when you write. You’re writing for them, after all, and the more you can see things from their point of view, the more effective your writing will be.