June 8, 2020

Email etiquette


I can’t believe we’re still talking about this! Email has been common place in business for years, in fact many argue that with the increased use of social media and mobiles email use may now be reducing.

Regardless email is still for many a primary communication tool. Given that here are just some points that shouldn’t be overlooked – even when emailing using a mobile or tablet.

Firstly, always be professional and polite.
This mostly comes up as an issue for internal emails and after multiple replies. A lot of people short cut internal communications however these emails should be treated much the same as external emails to clients and stakeholders. As business leaders your employees and teams judge your emails harsher than any external audience ever will. For team members this is an opportunity for personal professional branding.

How do you want be to seen in your organisation? Communicate in this manner consistently and don’t shortcut, no matter how tempting it may be.

Remember, being concise and direct isn’t an excuse for rudeness. Make sure your tone is being received in the way you intend.

Remember that in email the biggest clues about your tone (body language and vocal expression) are missing.
Be extra careful about the words chosen in emails to ensure you come off as approachable and respectful. You don’t want to sound curt, demanding or flat out rude.

One topic per email avoids confusion.
Email chains can become easily confused when there are multiple topics being discussed in one email chain, or worse when the topic changes mid chain and the subject line isn’t adjusted appropriately. Stick to one point per email as much as possible.

Having said that make sure you answer all questions to reduce the need for multiple replies.

Watch your spelling and always use proper grammar.
Always use spell check, have it set to run automatically. You can write in a conversational tone and contractions are fine.

Lack of punctuation, spelling errors and text speak reduce the readability of your message.

Don’t address the ‘to’ field until you’ve completely finished writing and proofing your email
Make sure that your email is written exactly the way you want it. This will keep you from accidentally sending an email before you’ve completely finished.

When thinking about the ‘to’ field also consider the number of people cc’d. Sometimes it’s critical everyone stays on email chains, other times it’s not – make sure you actively make that decision rather than automatically replying all, all the time.

Avoid high priority
Unfortunately even if the email is important you risk coming off slightly aggressive if you use the high priority function. I highly recommend that if you have an urgent email you call first and if that’s not possible use the subject line descriptively to highlight the importance of the email.

Last but not least, read the email before you send it.
Read your email through the eyes of the recipient helps to make sure your message is effective and to avoid misunderstandings.

I could continue, there are so many things to think about when sending emails but hopefully this has some good reminders.



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