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10 Email Etiquette Tips
One of the most prevalent means of modern communication is electronic mail (e-mail); The ability to send messages from one person to another via a computer. This medium has been widely abused and misused with the biggest drawback being lack of awareness of things to avoid when using email. There are a few things people do while using this facility that drive a large number of recipients up the wall. In this article I address some of the most important issues related to email usage as hundreds of do’s and don’ts. I’ve been using email for over a decade. It is a great way to communicate but like any other facility, it can be misused and abused. Abuse has always been observed in situations where the intent of the facility is not clear. Email will be with us for some time to come so users need to practice etiquette so that everyone who uses it will enjoy doing so.
1. Open and respond to emails quickly – It is very frustrating to send an email and get no response. One begins to wonder if the emails even went through or were delayed. It is not necessary to respond to the email to confirm that you have read all attachments. You can respond to the communication you receive and read it in more detail at a later time. This gives the sender peace of mind. While I encourage you to open emails quickly, be careful with suspicious subject lines and attachments to avoid infecting your machine with viruses.
2. Clarify what you want to communicate – Long winding emails never grab the reader’s attention. Get to the point early to make sure people read and understand your point in as few words as possible. I’m not suggesting that you start using slang and shorthand on email. People have recently become busier due to increased demands in the workplace and in life in general. Your subject should match what’s in the body of your message and what’s in the attachment. Avoid fooling people with enticing subject and body text even if the attachment falls short of expectations. Always make sure you dress up your email, double check to see if what you want to say has been said. It’s annoying to write about the same topic four times while adding a little more information with each email. People are always waiting for version four of your email if they see a trend. Be clear in your email if it is for someone’s information or action.
3. Organize and organize your emails – When you are organized, you become more efficient with your email making it an exciting experience. The first thing I do when I open my mailbox is to select all spam or junk mail and flag it as such and trash it immediately. I also create folders to store emails in different categories. To automate the archiving process, I create email rules that help keep emails in different folders without my intervention. Emails that I don’t find valuable are quickly deleted as well as made way to be useful. You will definitely find that doing this will allow you to handle hundreds of emails without any sign of fatigue. In order not to forget to follow-up on emails, I always flag unread emails so that they keep my attention. It helps me stay on the ball because I can’t stand unread email for too long. It shocks me when I see people with 400 unread messages, important messages hidden in not-so-helpful emails that lead to missed deadlines, postponed appointments, etc.
4. Pay attention to the way you address – For information on who you are sending the message to, carbon copy (cc) and know who you are (bcc) means they get a copy of the email and yet other recipients don’t get to know about it. When distributing newsletters or emailing hundreds of people, always bcc addresses below. Sending unsolicited email all over the web because people needlessly expose other people’s addresses. It can be annoying. Similarly, if you receive an email from someone who copied 5 other people, use the reply option to send a response to the sender. Reply All will send your reply email to everyone who receives it. Use the answer only when absolutely necessary.
5. Email formatting and accuracy is important – It is important to note that email is a replacement for the traditional handwritten letter of yesteryear. People used to be very careful about how to format their letters. Now, despite the availability of tools and utilities to format e-mails, check spelling, grammar, and more, people still send crude, inaccurate e-mails to recipients. Always check spelling to make sure you communicate what you essentially mean. On the contrary, it is easier to communicate. Scanning your email using just your eyes won’t help your mind clear the errors. Sometimes walking away from the email and coming back a few minutes later will show you all the errors. Avoid typing in all YELLING CAPS or all lazy lowercase letters as both communicate an attitude. Avoid multiple colors in your email. It’s not about the decorations and backgrounds, but the message. Avoid emoticons as much as possible, especially in business-related emails. Funny looking fonts can be annoying because they make someone spend more time reading the email. Avoid them.
6. Proper attachment management is essential – From time to time you may want the recipient to access the attached file. Don’t assume that all recipients have the same version of the program to open attachments. Save the attachment in a format that can be opened by any version of the program the recipient has. Huge file attachments need to be compressed for ease of movement. Some servers truncate large attachments so your information is not received. Always send a separate email to confirm receipt of large attachments. Not everyone has a high speed internet connection to download. Never assume that because you know the email sender you can trust their attachments. Viruses are usually attached to email so where the recipient’s machine is vulnerable without virus protection, it becomes infected after executing or opening the attachment.
7. Beware of those forwards – Assess the usefulness or usefulness and validity of an email before forwarding it to others. Some “special offers” etc. are just scams or spam. You may not know what emails will trigger in the people you send them to. The quality and type of email you peddle affects how people perceive you. Always take the time to type a personal comment along with the email so the recipient knows you read it and what you want them to do. If you can’t type a comment, don’t bother forwarding it. Be careful about forwarding emails that are political or sexual in nature. The people receiving the email probably won’t appreciate your “generosity.” In the companies I worked for, we agreed that anyone found peddling nudity and sex jokes would be banned outright or face disciplinary action. Non-business content is a waste of business resources. You may not have originated the message but seeing 30 (very inspiring) messages being forwarded a day is humiliating. Avoid sending bulk mail to people who have not asked you for that service. I know how I feel when I get those bulk mailed items so I don’t want to do that to others.
8. Practice email courtesy – Be polite enough to apologize if you send a message that you perceive to be fraudulent. Sometimes you can send a message that means one thing, but the receiver can read it in a different context and create resentment. Don’t add insult to injury by responding angrily, just explain what you mean. There is no reason to use the email system to fight a war of words. There is no time to waste. Before you get upset that “people aren’t replying”, please check your trash or junk-mail folder to see if replies were automatically archived by mistake.
9. Handling emotional emails – Emails you write when emotionally charged sometimes lead to regret. Unlike a letter which after writing you have time before it reaches the postbox; Once you hit send, in most cases it’s hard to remember the message. Always step back and ask yourself if the response you are giving will be relevant the next day. Wait until that day and send the message. You will notice that many spikes will drop because they cause miscommunications or cause a communication barrier to the receiver. Humans are emotional animals. Any statement you say can have 8 different meanings easily read by 8 different people mainly because they come from different backgrounds and experiences. They also have different levels of emotional strength. Beware of offensive statements to the opposite sex, such as “much love, miss you, lots of hugs and kisses.” Be sensitive to the recipient.
10. Final Advice – Just because you have someone’s email address doesn’t mean you can share it with anyone. If someone wants an email, they should find it themselves. Avoid using your business email address on online subscriptions. Use your private address as a business email address should be for business only. Secure your email by forwarding a copy to your private address. Even if your machine is stolen or damaged, you’ll have a backup of your email. You never know when you’ll need proof that you sent an email. It may be an email you use to protect yourself from prosecution or punishment in a court of law. When using your business email to send contributions or opinions, always include a disclaimer indicating that your point of view is not your employer’s or otherwise use a personal email address to send personal views and mindsets. The last thing you need is to get your employer’s domain blacklisted.
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