Tips for Email Etiquette
Business etiquette encompasses
much more than simply knowing how, when, and whether to hold a door
open for someone. It is increasingly vital to polish and hone your e-mail
One gaffe or misstep could mean
losing an account or personal embarrassment. With more businesses across
the world connected to the Internet and relying on e-mail, knowing “netiquette”
is important – and could make or break a business relationship.
More professionals are relying
on e-mail. Often it’s a much faster way to make contact and get a call
back. But if you don’t know the proper etiquette to on-line correspondence,
you could be closing the door before you even get your foot in it.
Here are 10 tips to remember:
1. Watch your words!
You may think that what you say is easy to understand, but sometimes words
can be misconstrued. Be concise and to the point. This will eliminate the
need for costly long distance phone calls to follow up on e-mails that
need further clarification.
2. No negative comments,
but delivering bad news sometimes OK. If you use antagonistic words or
critical comments – known as “flames” in cyberspeak – it can hurt people
and cause awkward situations. E-mail is not the place to make negative
comments. However, it can be a good way to avoid face-to-face encounters
when bad news must be delivered. Typically, bad news is shared with more
accuracy through an e-mail vs. an in-person encounter because no "sugar
coating" of the news is done – just the facts. Sometimes, however, delivering
bad news in person is better – it shows that the messenger cares about
the recipient's feelings when reading the news.
3. Remember, few
people like “spam.” When sending unsolicited e-mails, make sure that
there is value to the recipient. If you don't, they may very well consider
it “spam” (Internet lingo for junk mail), and delete it unread. Whenever
possible get the recipient’s permission, or at least ensure that they know
the e-mail is coming.
4. Nothing is private.
Never forget that there is no such thing as a private e-mail. Even when
a message is deleted, many software programs and on-line services can access
messages on the hard drive. Before you click on “send,” consider
what may happen if the message is read by someone else -- like the boss.
The general rule of thumb is do not send personal or confidential e-mails.
Better safe than sorry. You certainly wouldn’t want a client’s secrets
revealed or your off-color joke to be read by the wrong person.
5. Keep attachments
to a minimum. The larger the attached document, the longer it takes
to download and the more memory space it fills on a recipient’s computer.
Some e-mail attachments may not be necessary. Consider faxing lengthy documents
that might otherwise be e-mailed. Or, if time is not really an issue, use
regular mail services, UPS or Federal Express.
6. CC Or Not To
CC? Just like a regular memo, you may want to send copies of your e-mail
to others in the office or other clients as "FYIs." The same guidelines
apply about flames and spams.
7. Never assume
anything. While you may be an Internet pro, and familiar with
the lingo and various emoticons (like the popular smiley face :-)
and others), don’t assume the recipient is.
8. Think twice before
hitting "reply to all." When you are one of multiple e-mail recipients,
consider who really needs to hear your response. It probably isn't necessary
to hit the "reply to all button." Most often, the original author of the
e-mail is the only person to which you need reply.
9. If your message
doesn't need a response, let the recipient know. This can save time
-- theirs and yours -- and stop the cycle from continuing on in perpetuity.
Say something like "No reply necessary" at the end of your message or even
in the subject line.
10. Don't send e-mails
that simply say "Thanks." Another are e-mails that just say "OK." These
one-word replies are no better than spam. Anyway, remember that even in
this digital age, nothing replaces an in-person "thank-you" message or
here to find a career you can be passionate about
MA, CSP, CMC
MA, CSP, CMC, is author of 15 books, including her new book, Help! Was
That a Career Limiting Move?, Speaking is an Audience- Centered Sport,
and Professional Impressions … Etiquette for Everyone, Every Day.
She has appeared on CNBC several times, Fox-TV, Oxygen Network, and been
quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, People,
Glamour, BusinessWeek, Fortune and many other national publications.
Her Jenkintown, PA-based training corporation, Brody Communications Ltd.,
connects people to potential by offering customized seminars, coaching
and keynotes focusing on communication, presentation skills and leadership.
Visit www.BrodyCommunications.com or call 800-726-7936.
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