When I watch an older movie that is set in an office building, I always catch myself doing a double take. Without fail, my eyes always scan the television screen for signs of personal computers or laptops until I realize that having these pieces of technology are still relatively new. Specifically, the use of email in business has made a huge impact not only on the speed of communication and business transactions, but also on the tone and style that we communicate with each other.
While the days of writing detailed letters on pen and paper are long gone, the practice of communication etiquette should certainly not be going the way of the dinosaurs. Here are some quick refreshers on how to keep your emails polite, clear and the most effective for building and maintaining relationships:
• Never respond to important emails when you are in a rush. Yes, you may be anxious to reply, but you also run the risk of grammar and spelling mistakes as well as sending a response that does not answer all the questions/information needed of you.
• Make it a priority to respond to every email that you receive. You expect to have your emails read by others in a timely manner, so you should do the same for the emails that you receive. Many email clients, such as Outlook and Gmail, allow you to create categories for your emails. I try to label any emails that I need to respond to later with a certain color, and I go back and make sure they are all gone by the end of the day.
• Watch the format of your emails. Here are some things that your emails should never contain: All caps, all bolded words, large fonts, fonts that are not easy to read, text that is set in various colors, abbreviations/texting language (ex: “Thnx” instead of “Thank you”), incomplete sentences, misspellings or grammar mistakes. Having even one of these things in your email can be the deciding factor between whether someone views you as professional or not.
• Always have an email signature. Including information such as your full name, email address, phone number, company name and position allows others to contact and address you in the proper way.
• Always address the recipient by name at the beginning of your email, and always close your emails with “Thank you” or “Sincerely” before you provide your signature.
• Keep messages brief and to the point.
• Use the blind copy (BCC) appropriately. BCC should only be used when sending emails to a large list. It should not be used to hide who you are sending the email to from others.
• Use the subject line of the email to indicate the purpose of your message. For example, if you are writing to request information about a client, use a subject line such as “[Client’s Name]’s Information Request” instead of “Information About Client.”
• Do not request delivery and read receipts. These functions do not always work across all email platforms. Additionally, they annoy your recipient prior to them even reading your email.
Do you have any examples of what you consider to be poor email etiquette? If so, be sure to leave a comment below!
Resources: Microsoft Office 12 Tips for Better E-Mail Etiquette
Image courtesy of Designspiration