Email Etiquette 101- Communicating Effectively

Today, we live in a society that has many ways to communicate to one another. One such popular method is communicating by email. There aren’t many careers that do not rely on using email to communicate between customers and co-workers. The problem is that many email authors have gotten somewhat relaxed on their email etiquette skills. Sometimes an email is our first impression to others, so having proper email etiquette practices is very important. Here are 4 things I think may help.

1. Know who your email recipient is:
We all have gotten somewhat lazy in the art of writing messages. Especially since the age of technology has overshadowed the age of pen and paper. We substitute acronyms like “LOL” to inform our reader that we are “laughing out loud”. Writing an email to check in on an old college buddy is one thing, but contacting your boss and using slang language such as “LOL” is another. It’s OK to be a be informal to individuals you have a close relationship with, but with someone you either have only a professional relationship with or people you have yet to meet; you may want to run the spelling and grammar check and proofread your message before sending it.

2. Be brief and to the point:
I am probably one of the world’s worst email ramblers. However, overtime in the communication field I have learned that you want to convey your message effectively, but use as few words as possible while ensuring the message will be understood. This is probably a tricky concept since most people interpret messages differently. The point is to say what you need to say then stop. If any further communication needs to happen, pick up the phone or have a face-to-face meeting to discuss the matter further.

3. Use reply-to-all sparingly:
Many days I wished that I could secretly disable the reply-to-all function on most email software. I can’t tell you how many times I am hooked in a never-endless trail of email that really has nothing to do with me; just because the original emailing party decided to copy me on the email. If it is a message that all eyes need to see then use it. Otherwise, just reply to the sender.

This topic is one that always makes me want to scratch my head a little when I am sent an email with all the text in all-caps. I usually write back (only if I know the person) and ask them, “Why are you yelling at me?” This is pretty funny to me, because I usually get a phone call later asking me what I meant by my comment. All-caps do draw attention, but in most cases it is the wrong attention. If people don’t think you are “yelling” they may think you are trying to insult their intelligence.
It is pretty easy to send an email, but it is hard to send a message. To effectively communicate is an ability that is (or should be) an ever-evolving skill. There are mounds of informative information on the internet that can help you learn new emailing habits and trash the old ones.

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