Friday, January 9, 2015

Email Etiquette, Do You Have It?

Many of us may never master the etiquette of fine dining- which fork to use, what food is really "finger food" or which glass is for water and which glass is for wine...But far more important is the etiquette of email. Email like an oaf, and you are likely to alienate your co-workers, clients or possibly even your boss.

These are my favorite rules of etiquette for email:

Reply- No matter what, acknowledge swiftly that you received a message. If no specific response is required, just say "thanks." If you own an "action item" but can't get to it for a while, let the sender know you saw the message and approximate when you expect to reply. Do not let mail accumulate in your inbox without acknowledging its receipt. 

If you're on the CC line, do not reply- As with any rules there are exceptions, but you're on the CC line for a reason - and that reason is usually "for information only." Let the masses on the "to" line do their job first, unless someone distinctly invites you into the conversation.

Don't forget the attachments- Ok I must admit I used to be notorious for this one, we all make mistakes, but trust me you don't want to be "that guy" or in my case "that gal" who always forgets to include attachments. Undoubtedly, you might want to use a tool that makes sure your emails always have subject lines and attachments when you write something like "attachment enclosed."

Address all questions- A widely used email trick is to sift through a long email and only respond to the issues you want to deal with or the easy questions, as if the sender will somehow have a memory lapse that there are other questions left unanswered. Address each issue or question, even if it means voicing that you don't know the answer. Do not make people ask the same questions over and over because you chose to ignore the "tough" part of the email.

Spell and Grammar Check- Unless you want to appear illiterate or uneducated proof read and spell check before hitting that send button. And this is one of my biggest pet peeves; unless your intention is to yell at the recipient, do not type with your caps lock on or use multiple questions marks and exclamation points.  

Keep the subject line current- If an email's subject deviates from the original topic over the course of a long thread, it's okay to change the subject line. Undeniably, the other recipients will thank you.

Be mindful of your tone- It's difficult to read tone in an email, which is partly why emoticons were invented. Be careful not to infuse attitude or sarcasm into your replies. Give emails that you may think have "a tone" the benefit of the doubt. It's easy to misunderstand humor in an email, so be very careful when "trying" to be funny. It doesn't matter how you feel about the people you're conversing with or the contents of the message, go out of your way to be positive and polite. Additionally, most business email shouldn't have little smileys, lol or other acronyms in them. They make you look kooky and unprofessional. 

These are my recommendations, email rules or guidelines vary from business to business. Check with your boss or co-workers if you're unsure what your company's email etiquette is.

Please share any suggestions other email etiquette with us...