The Do's & Don'ts of Email Etiquette

The Do's & Don'ts of Email Etiquette

Email. You may love it or hate it but one thing is for certain, you can’t get away from it. All of us use it to one degree or another and to think, email has been around only since 1993. and they project that there will be over 4.7 BILLION accounts by the end of 2017.

You would also think that with the volume of emails that we send and receive we’d have it down pretty pat, right? Not so quick. It seems that there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to professional business email etiquette.

Here are some email dos and don’ts for all of us in the digital age:

Don’t engage in an endless email thread. Sometimes it is simply more efficient to pick up the phone and stop the never-ending back and forth of email. If you cannot get your answer or handle the situation with one or two email “volleys” the phone is often the best solution.

Don’t “reply all” indiscriminately. Many folks will often “cc” people on emails that are meant solely for the recipient. This is done to keep people “in the loop” even if they are not directly involved in the situation, and in most cases it is apparent that the only person who needs a reply to the email is the sender. Be careful to not use “reply all” as a default when you receive email that has been sent to multiple recipients. If only one person needs your response then don’t “reply all!”

Don’t hit “send” too fast. It’s easy to fire off an email in a fit of anger and then hit send before taking the time to reconsider what you are saying and how it is being communicated. Email can come across very harsh and you have to be careful with your words and tone. Rereading your email before hitting send also provides you with the opportunity to correct typos and your grammar and in general make certain that the communication does nothing to undermine your credibility.

Do remember that your email can go viral. I remember a time when you sent a letter and one person received it. Maybe they showed it to a few other people but for the most part it was a very controlled communication. Not anymore. With just a few keystrokes your email can get sent to hundreds or thousands of people (or even more courtesy of social media) so you want to be incredibly careful about what you say in email and to whom you send it.

Do remember not to yell. Typing something in all caps is read as shouting and is very poor email etiquette. If you are writing something about which you feel strongly and want to get your point across, consider underlining the words or making them bold.

Do remember to be professional. We tend to get very casual with our emails. Save the cutesy emojis for when you are writing to friends or family. The same is true for the appearance of the email. Use blue or black type and a professional font and skip anything that can be taken as unprofessional.

One last point. People have personal preferences as to how they handle their email. Some check their email continually over the course of the day; others check just once or twice. It’s difficult to say that one way is better than another and it certainly depends a lot on the job and the type of emails that are received. The same thing holds true for the recipients of your email. If you require an urgent response you should skip the technology and pick up the phone lest your email languish in their inbox for many hours.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you…by email, of course!

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