Email Do’s and Dont’s

Email Oops! Button on Keyboard

Sending emails to your boss, co-workers, prospects or existing clients has the potential to be a minefield of professional correctness/decorum, with each inappropriate joke and incorrectly capitalized letter a disaster waiting to happen. Sending an email is obviously very convenient but should not be used to upset or avoid someone.

  • Don’t use emails to avoid personal contact – If you’re sending an email that could potentially confuse or be emotional for the recipient, call the person or speak with them face-to-face.
  • Reply to all emails sent to you – If it appears you were sent a message by accident, still reply to make sure it was a mistake. Also, try to respond to emails within 24 hours on the next business day.
  • Email is not private – Email is considered business property, so assume the email will be read by everyone. Also, don’t use your business email for personal matters.
  • Very important! Check over your email twice before sending it out – Not only do you want to make sure it’s clear, and words are spelled correctly, you also want to verify: subject line, correct contact information and add any attachments.
  • Add the email address last – You don’t want to accidently send the email before you have finished writing or proofing the emails. Also double-check you selected the correct recipient.
  • Keep tabs on your tone – For sensitive emails, have a trusted colleague read it and provide feedback on the tone or words that may be misinterpreted.
  • “Reply All” Use “Reply All” when you are dividing up responsibilities for a group task, or you have a question about a group task or event that everyone in the email group needs to have answered. Another rule of thumb, use “Reply All” if your answer will affect others’ plans of action. And if you need to target only a few members of the group, use the FORWARD function and enter the members’ names manually.

There are a variety of pitfalls we all succumb to when emailing and we should be mindful to avoid them. Starting with the subject line to the closing, email should be thought of as an important piece of communication that should be used wisely.

  • Include a clear and straightforward subject line – The recipient will decide if it’s worth opening now or later based on the subject line. Great examples include “Proposal ideas” or “Presentation date changed.”
  • Don’t use Bcc (blind copy) to keep others from seeing who you copied – Bcc should only be used when sending to a large distribution list so recipient’s messages won’t be cluttered with a long list of email addresses. Only Cc people who are directly involved.
  • Use professional salutations – Salutations such as “Dear”, “Hi”, or “Good Morning” are appropriate – depending on how familiar you are with the recipient, you may use their first name, their last name (with Mr., Ms. Mrs.) or a combination of the two.
  • Use phrases such as – “Sincerely”, “Yours sincerely”, “Thank you”, “Thank you again”, “Respectfully yours”, etc. Also, don’t forget to thank the recipient for their time. Lastly, include your name and title, your employer’s name, the business’ postal address, and business phone number.
  • Keep messages brief and to the point, concentrating on one subject per message if possible – At one point, everyone has had to wade through clunky, wordy emails that took two paragraphs to ask one question.
  • Don’t be careless with grammar Don’t write in all caps, as IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE YELLING. Don’t write in all lower case, because it looks lazy. Use exclamation points sparingly and only to convey excitement. Most important, use good grammar. Not only are you representing your company, you are also representing yourself. Don’t use abbreviations such as “ain’t”, “LOL”, or BTW, etc.
  • Don’t use fancy fonts – They are unprofessional and not everyone is able to display these images.

And there you have it: emails: keep it to-the-point, clear, and classy and you shouldn’t have any problems.

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