Email Etiquette: A Refresher

Friday, June 12, 2009

MouseComputer The advent of instant messaging, texting, and Twittering, has brought with it some horribly informal communication habits.  More and more, these bad habits are creeping into our emails.  It seems that "how r u" is acceptable in today's emails.  But is it truly acceptable?  Perhaps on a personal level, but professionally speaking, no, it's not acceptable.  Let's remind ourselves of some dos and don'ts when it comes to business-related email.

DO write professionally, even when conversing with an intimate colleague.  You never know who might see it!

DO keep it short and simple.  Enough said!

DO respond promptly to questions and requests, even if it's to say that you don't know or that you need more time.  It's common courtesy.

DO use the Bcc field for mass-mailings.  This respects everyone's privacy.

DO be cautious with your tone.  Without the non-verbal cues you get in face-to-face conversations, people might be offended if you come off sounding snippy or disrespectful even if you didn’t intent to.

DO send attachments only when appropriate.  Consider compressing or "zipping" files to reduce download time.

DO craft a subject line that quickly states the purpose of your email.  Simply saying "Hi" might not get your email answered right away.

DON'T continue to reply to conversations that have ended.  For example, when someone thanks you leave it at that; you don't need to reply with "no problem" or the like.

DON'T send/forward chain letters, spam, or other inappropriate material.

DON'T write your entire email in ALL-CAPS.  It's the Internet-way of shouting.

DON'T use "High Importance," "Urgent," etc. unless absolutely necessary.

DO however, use "Low Importance" when appropriate.  This lets the recipient know they can pass it over and review it at a more convenient time.

DO use a greeting and signature.  This keeps your email a little more personable than just simply starting your message.

DON'T format your messages with "stationary" backgrounds.  Depending on the email client, the recipient may have difficulty opening, reading, or replying.

DON'T use delivery notifications or "Read Receipts," except on the rare occasion it's necessary.

Do you have some additional dos and don’ts?  Post a comment and let me know!

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