Email Etiquette – Frequently overlooked rules of email etiquette
I know I’m not the first person to discuss the finer points of email etiquette, but it bears repeating. I often think email has become the bane of our existence. It often takes an inordinate amount of our time each day. The speed of email always seems to create an expectation of an equally speedy response, something not always possible and not always advisable. Quick responses may convey not only the wrong message, but also the wrong tone.
In an effort to appear prompt, emails may come off as curt or even rude. When there are no visual cues to navigate the sender’s intent, misinterpretation is common, sometimes with negative results.
Besides the expectation of a quick response, senders often fail to ask all questions at once, setting off an ever lengthening email chain that, frankly, loses something in the translation and becomes tedious.
A few admittedly common sense, but frequently overlooked rules of email etiquette can be helpful.
Rules of Email Etiquette
1. Always use a greeting and a sign-off. Just as you would never start a letter by diving into your subject and then not signing your name, your emails should show the same courtesy. A “good afternoon” and “best regards” will work for a business email, while a “hello” and “talk to you soon” will work for more casual emails. Both serve as brackets for your message and convey courtesy to the recipient.
2. Use complete sentences with suitable punctuation. An email, although faster than snail mail, is still a written message. If you wish to convey a courteous manner, as well as thoughtfulness and some modicum of education, take the time to create complete sentences.
3. Use spell check before sending your message. Although errors happen, especially when using your smart phone to respond take a brief moment to reread your message. Auto correct does not always convey the sentiment you desired.
4. If you cannot fully respond to an email inquiry in a prompt manner, try to send a brief note indicating you will respond as soon as you are able. An automatic reply can be used if you are occupied for a long meeting, an event where a response is not possible, or of course for vacations.
5. Don’t write a book in your email, but do ask all of your questions at once if possible. Use numbering or bullet points for clarity, brevity, and ease of reading.
6. Finally, when in doubt about the sender’s intent, pick up the phone. Many misinterpretations and awkward situations have been saved by a simple phone call.
Practice good Email Etiquette
These sound simple and repetitive, but so often throughout the day I receive emails that seem rude. Others make the sender appear too lazy to properly respond. Although personal emails to your friends can be much more casual, common courtesy demands a regard to the tone of the message. Read your message out loud to yourself before sending if you have any doubt at all as to how it may sound.
The couple of extra minutes you take before hitting the send button are well worth it!