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Email Etiquette

July 27, 2009

Email LogoNinety two percent of Internet users in the United States use email. That’s huge considering 73% of those living in the U.S. use the Internet (Information Please® Database, Pearson Education, Inc., 2008). It is undoubtedly one of the most widely used methods of communication today.  Many people use email for business communications, which highlights the importance of knowing proper email etiquette. While a lot of people understand the importance of following certain rules when writing a business letter, they often forget these rules when composing an email message.

Here are some tips to serve as a refresher.

Watch your tone: As Mehrabian tells us, words are only a small part of the communication we receive. In email, we don’t have the ability to analyze the meaning of the words by tone of voice, body language and so on and so it’s very easy for the intention of e-mails to be misunderstood. It’s a really good idea therefore to read e-mails over a couple of times before pressing the ‘send’ button.

Call to confirm: We also often think that because we have sent an email, it has been received. If it’s something really important, it’s a good idea to follow up with a phone call to make sure your message has been received as this can save time and confusion in the long run.

Spell check: the entire document in order to omit any possible spelling errors. It never hurts to check your punctuation as well. Remember that your email message reflects on you as a person. If the spelling is poor, or if the grammar is lacking, then it does not make a good impression on the receiver. This is especially important in conducting business matters via email, but is important in every day email usage too.

Mind Your Manners: Think of the basic rules you learned growing up, like saying please and thank you. Address people you don’t know as Mr., Mrs., or Dr. only address someone by first name if they imply it’s okay to do so and don’t use all caps.

Be Professional: Use Correct Spelling and Proper Grammar: Use a dictionary or a spell checker — whichever works better for you. While you can write in a conversational tone (contractions are okay), pay attention to basic rules of grammar. This means, stay away from abbreviations, don’t use a cute or suggestive email address for business communications, and don’t expose everyone on your email list.

Be Concise: Get to the point of your email as quickly as possible, but don’t leave out important details that will help your recipient answer your query and always fill in the subject line.

Recognize: It’s quick and convenient to send an email when it is appropriate but be sure to know when it would be better to walk over to somebody’s desk or to pick up the phone.

Basically, you must keep in mind that there is a human being at the other end of your email messages. Remember to use the same manners as if you were talking to them in person. For most conversations, you will keep your messages short and to the point too, as it is common for person’s eyes to get tired from looking at a computer screen.

Let us know if you want to add to this list.  We’d also be interested in knowing what you think of our newsletter/blog and what topics you’d like to see us address.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 30, 2009 10:57 AM

    FANTASTIC tips, Cheryl—we could all stand a refresher course on how to be better about communicating with one another in this new, wonderful, profound way. Words are so powerful and there can be so many meanings behind them—and often we have no control over the meanings the folks on the receiving end will choose. So it’s best to keep it like you said—concise, simple, focused.

    Love this blog!!!

  2. August 4, 2009 3:47 PM

    Again, these are terrific. I would add to be careful of the “reply all” button. While it keeps people in the loop, a back-and-forth discussion between two people in the list can be overkill for everyone on the list to read.

    Send this to workplace editors and get yourself some media exposure for this!!!! If you don’t know to send to, email me and I’ll let you know.

  3. Jazelle permalink
    November 12, 2009 5:51 PM

    Yes, punctuation, capital letters, etc. are key. Thanks for letting me know about the uppercase thing.

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