The Etiquette of Email


By Gary Pudles

This past year, one of my senior directo­rs gave a presentation about effective email communication to the attendees of our annual national meeting. It was important to me to provide this training because emails can be easily misinterpreted. In fact, 80% or more of our intention when delivering information is derived from facial expression, voice tone and body language. These signals are not there in an email, text or even a letter. So how do you maintain  etiquette in written (in this case, email) communication, while still getting your point across?

First, consider re-reading your whole message, out loud, before you hit send. When you hear the words, you may know immediately how they sound to a reader. Or step away from your message for a little while. By giving yourself a few minutes after you finish constructing the message, the possibility of error or misinterpretation is vastly reduced. Also, reading it from the recipient’s perspective is any easy way to gauge if the tone of the message is appropriate. “Do you have moment today to discuss this project?” sounds a lot better to your reader than “I need to discuss this project today.”

Don’t forget the subject line either. The subject line is an underrated part of email etiquette and effective communication. You want to give the reader the message’s bottom line, and highlight action items to set expectations. “Invitation to Department Brunch, Please Reply” is more effective than “Department Brunch.”

The most important thing to remember is that writing an email is like telling a story. Knowing how to frame and deliver your story, and packaging your message transcends the business environment. It improves your life. You should write your email with a defined beginning, middle and end. Keeping that sequence will help you organize your thoughts and avoid errors.

These are just a few suggestions to improve your email etiquette. You will be surprised about how just these three little steps can improve your communication. By reading your messages thoroughly, providing simple yet clear subject lines and writing your emails in a clear and organized manner, you avoid making mistakes and confusing your reader all the while saving you time, money and an unnecessary headache.

Simple E-Mail Etiquette in an Increasingly Busy Workday


By Erik Hudson, Contributing Blogger

If you use e-mail regularly, you can appreciate anything that can be implemented to make this communication tool more efficient. Each day tons of information is conveyed back and forth… most of it is useful, but some of it is not. Here are some things that you can do to keep the volume down and the value up:

1. Use “Reply All” SPARINGLY…
2. Make sure that you only copy required parties
3. Drop people from e-mail strings that don’t need to be included
4. Avoid “thank you” to all when you only want to thank one person
5. Pick up the phone when it makes more sense

So why is it important to be so mindful of the messages you send? Here are some statistics regarding e-mail management and the average American’s workday:

– Typical number of emails sent and received by a business user: 600 per week
– The average American employee spends about a quarter of their working day dealing with email
– Three out of ten spend more than two hours and almost one in ten (8 percent) spend an astonishing four hours or more a day pouring over their Inboxes
– But despite this, it is estimated that 86% of people agree e-mail has made them more efficient!

Finally, how should you manage the influx of messages every day? One thing is for sure – you need a system. Don’t leave everything sitting in your Inbox! Here are some general guidelines:

1. Read each e-mail and… Delete! (Not all of them – just the messages you don’t need anymore)
2. For all e-mail not deleted:
– Reply now
– Mark for reply by the end of the day
– Convert to a task if you cannot reply by the end of the day
– File it in it’s appropriate folder

In the future, we’ll touch more on Folder organization and using Tasks and Calendar Items to keep your day more productive and organized. For now, we hope these tips have been useful, and remember – “Reply All” is not your friend!

Erik Hudson is a Corporate Operations Manager – Outbound Services for AnswerNet.

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