In today’s world, email is an integral part of most jobs. Quite often it’s the primary form of contact with clients and colleagues. Following some basic rules of email etiquette will help you maintain a professional reputation.
1. Capitalization, Punctuation & Spelling
i recieved the fax today and will drop it by your desk in the am ttys, john
I received the fax today and will drop it by your desk in the morning. — John
Both the above notes are casual, brief memos which convey the exact same information. But in the second note, John comes across as more polished and professional — someone who cares about details. Will one sloppy email make or break someone’s business reputation? Of course not. However, with the large volumes of brief emails and text messages we’re exchanging every day (or every hour!) your grammatical habits will make an impact — positive or negative — on how you are perceived.
2. Timely Replies
Earning a reputation as a procrastinator can be crippling or even deadly to your career. This is definitely true when it comes to email response time. We all know the feeling of sending an important email and then checking repeatedly as we hope for a timely response to resolve an issue. It can be taken as an insult if business emails are not attended to within a reasonable length of time. Not responding is a response in itself — sending a silent message that you do not have time to take care of business, or something else is more important to you.
In plotting your daily schedule, be sure to allot time to keep your inbox uncluttered. If you have emails which will require lengthy responses that can or must wait, at least offer the sender a courtesy note acknowledging receipt of their email and assuring them that a thorough response will be forthcoming.
3. Spam is a No No When it Comes to Email Etiquette
Never, never send email “forwards” to clients or colleagues. No jokes, no amazing photos, no warnings about the dangers of aspartame. Never. Ever.
4. Blind Carbon Copy
When emailing a list of individuals, consider others’ privacy and take care to utilize the “bcc” function in your email header. Most people are guarded with their email addresses and share only with those necessary. This is a huge pet peeve of mine as well, so please consider this one of the most important rules of email etiquette.
When responding to an email that has been sent to several individuals, don’t choose “Reply-All” unless this has been specifically requested by the sender. If it is necessary to include all recipients in your response, keep your response brief and on-topic, and only reply once to the thread if at all possible. As we work to achieve inbox zero, “Reply-All” emails that include clever quips, and replies to quips, and replies to the replies to the quips will quickly cause annoyance.
Got any other email etiquette rules or suggestions? Pet peeves? Share them in the comments below!