In our technology-driven world, email has become a part of daily communication. It is used for everything from personal messages between family and friends to marketing, advertising, and business communication. In the work environment, emails are often sent to convey a wide range of information. Before you hit the “send” button, however, make sure that you are following some basic rules of email etiquette.
- Keep messages short and to the point. People are bombarded with tons of emails every day. They do not want to spend a great deal of time reading lengthy messages that could have easily been summed up in a few short sentences. Avoid using long paragraphs and instead approach email like a PowerPoint slide – short sentences that get the point across.
- Send messages only to essential recipients. The more people you add or copy, the more confusing things can become. This also takes up time and inbox space of people who aren’t really involved. Identify who the target audience is and direct the email to only these people. Be strategic.
- Clearly label the subject line. This is the first glimpse of the email that a person gets. Make it count. Oftentimes people prioritize or sort their emails. Having a clear, concise subject line can help ensure that your email gets read and responded to instead of lost in the shuffle. If it is time specific, start off with the date followed by the purpose of the email.
- Pay attention to tone. Written text can be impersonal in nature and is prone to misinterpretation. Choose your words carefully to avoid sending the wrong message. Reread the text to see if you can make things more clear or adjust phrases that may give off the wrong impression. Remember – the recipient can’t see the look on your face or hear the tone in your voice. They are relying on your words for this information.
- Proofread. Always double-check your emails before you hit send. Read through them again carefully to catch any spelling or grammar mistakes. Your message is a reflection of you, so you want to make sure that it is professional and positioning you as an authority in your space. A misspelled or missing word can change the whole meaning of a sentence.
- Add others to your response who were not included on the initial message. Unless there is a clear purpose for adding another person to the email string, simply reply to the person who sent it. If there are multiple recipients or others who are “CCed,” be mindful of hitting “reply” versus “reply all.” Bringing others into the conversation can be perceived as passive aggressive and cause more confusion or challenges.
- Hold meetings via email. Emails should be concise and have a clear purpose. If responsibilities need to be delegated or matters need to be more thoroughly discussed, hold a meeting in person or over the phone. Sending and receiving multiple emails from various people can delay the process and things can be easily overlooked or miscommunicated by mistake.
- Overuse email. There is a time, place, and purpose for everything. If it is faster and easier to pick up the phone or quickly drop by to see someone in person to relay your message or ask a question, do so. Email should not replace all other forms of communication. Sometimes it makes more sense to engage in face-to-face or phone communication rather than trying to figure out how to clearly convey something via email. Use them only as necessary because people are busy and do not want to spend their entire day on email.
Keeping these basic points in mind can help you to use your email more effectively and get your point across in a clearer way. Always remember to keep things professional and reflect yourself and your employer in a positive light. Once an email is sent, it is gone, so use your best judgment on what you say and how you say it.
For more assistance with email etiquette and how to assert yourself as a leader, contact JP Kantor Associates today. We can help you to present yourself in a more positive light and become an effective leader capable of producing desired results. What you say and how you say it matters, so make it count.