The farther humans are removed from face-to-face communication, the more likely they are to forget manners. These email etiquette reminders could prove valuable and help you avoid problems.
Anger is danger. It’s hard to maintain proper etiquette while filled with anger. Keep this in mind before hitting the send button. If you choose to write an email while in a state of anger, do yourself a favor and save it. When you wake up the next morning, read it. Make necessary changes and then send it … or not.
Take it easy. The ease at which one can send emails makes it tempting to send emails more than is necessary. Regardless of how funny or insightful you find Uncle Ned’s latest email, not everyone will appreciate it. People do not enjoy reading dozens of mass sent emails every week. The messages are often deleted unread.
Be appropriate. Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab gives guidelines for proper email etiquette when composing an email for a superior or someone you don’t know:
- Include a meaningful subject line to help the recipient prioritize the email.
- Use the appropriate greeting to begin the email, just as you would a letter.
- Use standard spelling and punctuation. If you use all caps or spell every other word wrong, your email will not be taken seriously.
- Be clear and concise. Proper etiquette is to show respect for the recipient’s time.
- Be friendly and appropriate, but not witty and jocular.
Exchange correctly. Email conversations have their own etiquette rules:
- Your first email should contain a greeting. You can omit the greeting on subsequent emails.
- Respond in a reasonable time frame. A reasonable time frame varies depending on the subject and the recipient’s expectations.
- Before replying, delete any previous messages that appear in the email. Too many messages clutter up the electronic conversation. It is, however, sometimes necessary to leave the old message to ensure the recipient knows what you’re responding to.
- When responding to multiple questions, embed your answers, that is, type your answer underneath each question. This helps clarify exactly what you’re responding to.
Treating your email like you would traditional written correspondence will be an aid to your business and keep you from offending your friends.