English Grammar And Writing

Email Etiquette Rules And Tips

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There are rules in email etiquette that are nearly the same as for all spoken and written communication. In this lesson we will discuss 10 email etiquette rules and tips to help write better emails.

Email Etiquette Rules Are Nearly the Same As Any Form of Communication

Even though email is an easy and fast form of communication, there are still email etiquette rules to follow. Nearly all the same rules that apply to speaking to someone in person, over the telephone, or writing them a letter apply to email etiquette. Politeness, courtesy, mutual respect, and common sense go a long way in email etiquette.

Top 10 Email Etiquette Rules

  • Be polite and professional. Avoid sloppy or informal greetings. 'Dear Mr. Smith' (and then using his first name Frank in a follow-up email after he responds and signs Frank) always works better than 'HEY!'
  • Always check where the email is going and who is in the loop. Sometimes people mix up 'to,' 'cc' and 'bcc' recipients.
  • Keep auto-signatures simple, and when replying to someone who already replied to your previous email, take out the auto-signature. No one likes a lengthy email string that goes on forever because you want to impress someone with your title. Once is enough.
  • Keep emails professional and uncomplicated but intelligent and clean. Avoid casual language.
  • Get to the point. Brief emails work better than long ones.
  • Watch out for grammar and typos. No one is perfect but always try your best.
  • Always put in a subject line. It's what people see right away and other than your name, how they find your email when they have to search for it.
  • Try to answer all email within a few days. A delayed or no response looks like you are ignoring the person.
  • Your words should express what you need or want to say. No special fonts, colors, or emojis.
  • Never send an angry email. If you have to send an angry email, write it without the address line, sleep on it, and then realize you don't have to send it.

The most important email etiquette rule, other than showing respect and common sense, is think, check, and think again before sending out an important email. Double check everything (greeting, message: content, grammar and spelling, signature, subject line, the recipients, the attachments, CC, and BCC). If the email is very important, send a test email to yourself. It may take a little bit of extra time but you'll get a good idea of how it looks.

Tips for Email Etiquette

After many years in academia and business, there are three major tips that I've found really help.

Always Use the Same Formal Greeting and Farewell

When I first starting writing emails for professional and diplomatic people, I wasn't sure how to address people and to close the email. I tried to be too formal and even simple emails became complicated. Then I remembered the rules of letter writing. Start with a greeting like Dear (name), write clear sentences that get to the point, and I always sign the email with the same farewell: Kind regards, (your name).

Once the email chain has been established, it is fine to not use this system in reply emails. However, for every email, even if it's just asking for a price quote to order paper, always use a polite greeting, clear, simple sentences that get to the point and a proper farewell. Once you get into the habit of this, it will seem strange NOT to write an email with your formula.

What to Do When You Get the Wrong or Impolite Email

Without a doubt, you will most likely get an email one day from a colleague or other business-like associate who doesn't know the rules of email etiquette like you do. That may be an email that was accidentally sent to you or a short message that looks impolite. The best thing I learned is to not take it personally and to realize everyone makes mistakes.

Once, I accidentally received three emails of things I was not supposed to see (private conversations, management details, etc.). Rather than cause embarrassment, I ignored them and went on with my work. Unless it is something illegal, the best thing you can is realize that everyone makes mistakes.

What to Do If You Make a Mistake

Lastly, what should you do if you make a mistake? I'll give you an example. Carbon-copy (CC) and blind carbon-copy (BCC) are areas where people make common mistakes. The email goes to the wrong person or doesn't go out at all. Sometimes it goes out too early. I was in charge of an organization's newsletter that went out not only to local and regional officials, but national government leaders as well. After completing our last check from my department head, I sent out the scheduled quarterly newsletter, on-time, to our standard CC and BCC list.

That very same day, our Chief had an emergency meeting and there was a complete redirection in one of our main programs. I had to redo the front page of the newsletter immediately to show this change. Rather than sending an email recalling the original newsletter, I realized a mistake could be a strength. I managed to send an amended newsletter by the end of the day. In the outgoing email, I highlighted the error of sending out the newsletter too early and brought attention to the change. If you do make a mistake, other than a spelling error, politely take responsibility and fix the error.

  Umbreen Aleem   Monday, 30 Dec 2019   16 Views

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