If you have a standard job, you probably use email all day, every day. It’s probably safe to assume that in one eight-hour period you send more emails than you speak words. Sad, but true.
But because of this, it’s important to know the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of proper email etiquette. You don’t want to be giving off the wrong impression, do you?
Did you say hello and goodbye?
You wouldn’t begin a conversation with someone you just met or barely know without a greeting. You also wouldn’t walk away from a conversation without ending it with a suitable goodbye. That’s just rude… and weird.
If you’re speaking with a client or a partner, always greet them properly: Hello, Hi there, How’s it going, Good morning. And, before you send your email, wrap it up with a goodbye: Thanks for your time, Talk to you later, Let me know if you have any questions.
Is that a novel or an email?
Let’s face it. We don’t like big globs of text (take note of what you’re reading right now). It’s intimidating. If we receive an email with a massive amount of text, we glance through it (missing important information) or save it for later (and never come back to it).
When you write an email, keep it short. Break up your information and highlight key information (bold your font or use the highlighter function). If you can’t get your point across with limited text, then you’re better off picking up the phone so you can go in-depth and maintain their attention.
Use spell check.
The lines are so blurred nowadays that you finish emails through text messages and end a phone call when you physically walk up to the person you’re speaking to—however, this doesn’t give you the right to use bad grammar and spell words incorrectly.
Spellcheck your email and always make sure you use complete words. In emails, do not use: cuz, k, y? or ya. Save that for your texts, and even then, only with close friends and family. Your boss or manager likely won’t be impressed with poor English skills.
Stay away from Caps Lock.
When you capitalize complete words or sentences, people tend to feel threatened. They automatically think, “Is he/she angry with me?” Or they think you’re too incompetent to use a computer properly. Do you not know where the caps lock button is? Either way the cookie crumbles, it’s not good.
Is it funny or is it just awkward?
Writing is a funny thing because one sentence can be read a million different ways. One person may interpret something completely differently than you did based on how they read it, their education level, their personal experiences and the way the wind blew ever so gently that day.
This means you should always be careful when you use humor, especially in a professional context. What you find hilarious may come off as rude and belittling to someone else.
Can I send an emoticon?
This is a bizarre one. In the past, absolutely no way. Now, however, things are a little different. Emoticons add a personal touch to emails and they can also help in your efforts to be humorous. If used correctly, an emoticon can make a detached email seem friendly or help soften an otherwise harsh body of text.
Regardless of how you feel about email, if you use it on a daily basis, it would behoove you to polish up your etiquette so you make a great electronic impression.