Today we’re going to be talking about email etiquette, because it’s a super important
skill to have to be able to communicate effectively. In most roles, you will regularly be emailing clients, coworkers and your manager. In this day and age most of that communication is online through your email.
So in this article, we’re going to be talking about email etiquette do’s and don’ts.
Openings and Closings
One of the most important parts of an email is the way you open it (the greetings) and the closing (the signing off). The most important aspect of that, is to ensure that you always spell the person’s name correctly. Believe me, as someone who gets their name spelt wrong regularly, it is very off-putting when the first thing I notice is that you are not detail oriented or you just don’t care about my name. Whatever you’re about to say to me will be discounted in my head, because you couldn’t even spell my name right.
I always recommend that everyone does a quick little double check. It probably takes two seconds—literally two seconds—so make sure you spell the name right. Another really important point is to make sure you have a quality sign-off. I know a lot of people get anxiety about how to sign off. Like should I be playful or should I be super professional?
My advice is take into context who you’re emailing. Usually, if it’s within your office or company you’ll know what the work culture is like. I would say don’t overthink it. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. I use “Regards” almost every time across the board. If I don’t use that, I will probably use “Cheers”.
It doesn’t have to be a big thing and I think choosing one or two that you use maybe for different situations and sticking with it is the best thing.
Threads and Group Emails
When you’re emailing in a group chain or an email thread make sure you don’t reply all if you don’t have to. If someone sends out a company alert, there really is no need to reply all and say “Thanks!’
If you really feel like you need to respond just make sure you’re replying to the person who sent out the email. I think the other point about replying all is that it tends to be a chain or a snowball effect so if one person says “Okay!” or “Thanks!” to the whole group “it’s like well I’m thankful too I have to respond.” and then it’s a nightmare.
If you’re the one sending out the group email, make sure you BCC if you need to. Because oftentimes it’s like “Oh I can see everyone’s email, and I don’t know if I’m supposed to.” If you’re referring to some sort of date or time in the subject line that has subsequently changed, please edit the subject line so that there’s no confusion once you’re emailing back and forth.
My biggest email etiquette tip here, is to know who you’re sending the invite to. That is, who you’re updating with changed times, who’s supposed to be there, and just being very deliberate about what you’re sharing and who you are inviting.
Let’s say you are having a small business coaching session, so there will be the coach, yourself and one of the team at your office. You will want to ensure that you invite both the external supplier (the coach) and the internal person (your colleague) to the event.
If the coach sends you the invite, ensure that you ask him/her to add your colleague as well, so everyone is on the same page with the event details. Such as event delays, venue, etc.
Honestly, formatting is a big aspect of the email etiquette do’s and don’ts. One of the key aspects that you should consider is the use of exclamation points. I feel many of us tend to overuse exclamation points and a lot of you are probably aware of this.
It’s not even just you thinking it’s statistically proven that we use more exclamation points and that in addition to that the receiver of those emails reads it as less professional than a period.
Managing Your Inbox
One way to help manage your inbox or to help manage your emails is to use plugins or apps
that are built to help you do just that. So one thing that we use in the office is Grammarly and that helps proofread our emails, and Gmail’s new inboxes have this built in.
The other one is the Google Undo feature, which is now built in the new inbox, so when you send an email you basically have ten fifteen or thirty seconds whatever you choose to set it as however you can unsend the email.
In terms of responding it’s very important that you set expectations with clients or coworkers. In our office, at an IT services company, we will not respond to people right away just because we might be able to at that time however we aren’t going to be able to all the time when they email us.
So setting people’s expectations that you respond usually within two days or by the end of the week being able to have the bar set so that they know “Okay I emailed Sarah, she’ll probably get back to me by Friday.” And you can even set those expectations explicitly and say “Oh hey XYZ, I respond to emails at 9.00am and 4.00pm. Anywhere in between there just assume I’ve gotten your email and I’ll get back to you then.”
Hopefully this article has helped clear up some email etiquette confusion that you may have or alleviate some anxiety that you have in regards to email. The only other point I would say is that I do think it gets better as with most things the more that you do it. Just keep doing it.
Remember, be concise, be mindful and be professional.