May 23, 2013 Jaclyn Bickerton
With so many emails to go through in a day, you might find yourself clicking “reply,” typing up a quick response, and hitting “send” without giving so much as a thought about what you’ve written. We’ve all done it before, and it’s easy to see why. We’re consistently bombarded with emails, and it takes time and effort to prioritize which emails to open first when so many are marked as “urgent”. With this being said, I recently came across a very informative ebook by David Grossman, The definitive guide to taming the email monster. It’s a great read, and if you have some time to go through the whole thing I suggest you do. Part of the guide includes some tips to help you break your bad habits, improve etiquette and communicate more effectively over email. I’d like to share the 17 email etiquette tips with you:
1. Keep your message clear and simple. Keep it to the point. Your recipient will get frustrated reading through your email if it is twice as long as it needs to be. Focus on your main message and get rid of unneeded words. Use short sentences and bullet points to make your message easier to read on a computer, smartphone, or tablet.
2. Answer all questions and be proactive. Answer all questions posed to you and proactively answer questions they are likely to ask next to save time on back and forth emails.
3. Respond quickly. Respond within 24 hours as email is built for speed. This will help build trust amongst your friends and business associates, and impress clients and prospects.
4. Use polite greeting and closings. Please and thank you go a long way in conveying a positive tone.
5. Use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Your email message reflects you and your company. Use spellcheck and proofread before sending anything.
6. Do not use all caps. Using all capitals makes it look like you’re shouting. You don’t need to use all capitals to get your point across.
7. Don’t use special formatting, backgrounds, colored text, or emoticons. Many feel that these are unprofessional.
8. Double check to make sure you have correct email addresses and attachments. Sending your email to the wrong person or sending the wrong attachment to a client could be damaging for your company. Avoid yourself some embarrassment by double checking these before you hit the send button.
9. Be clear in the subject line. Indicate your purpose in the subject line of the email, and make sure that it is easy for your recipient to understand what the rest of the email will be about. By briefly explaining the content of your message, you avoid having your emails ignored.
10. Never send an email when you’re upset. Step away from the message for a while before you send something you may regret.
11. Don’t hide behind email. Sometimes email can make it easy to avoid difficult conversations, but research shows that conflicts escalate more quickly and last longer over email.
12. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Email isn’t always the right vehicle. Email can’t convey the nuances of verbal communication, so don’t be afraid to use the phone instead.
13. Use the Cc field as an FYI. The Cc field means “this is for your information” and you are not expected to take action.
14.Use the Bcc field for large groups of recipients. Recipients won’t have to see a huge list of names, and you won’t be sharing others’ email addresses.
15. Only use “reply all” when appropriate. If everyone on the chain doesn’t need to see your response, don’t fill up their inboxes.
16. Take care when sending large files. Check with the recipient in advance to see how they would like to receive the file.
17. Avoid sarcasm and tongue in cheek humor. As I said before, email can’t convey the nuances of verbal communication. Your recipient may take it the wrong way, so it’s best to stay away from these types of statements.
There you have it. Very simple, yet many of us forget to apply these tips on a regular basis. Is there anything you would add to this list or anything you don’t agree with? Let us know in the comments.
Jaclyn Bickerton, Social Media, Raven5, Oakville and Toronto Ontario, May 2013