E-mail etiquette for some can be a real minefield! When is it appropriate to add kisses to an e-mail (if ever!!), what does it mean if you capitalise all of your text?
The following will help guide you through the quagmire of e-mail writing etiquette.
When writing e-mails, particularly at work, the last thing you want to do is appear unprofessional.
Getting the correct tone of your e-mail is so important. All too often people misinterpret e-mails as being rude or aggressive, and this can (and does) cause friction within the workplace. The first the ‘sender’ knows anything is amiss is when the ‘receiver’ either replies in an aggressive, rude manner, or worse still, confronts the ‘sender’ personally.
- Choosing the correct method to start an e-mail is very important to building a strong online relationship. Whilst “Dear” is still widely accepted, it is less commonplace when sending an e-mail to a colleague. “Hi” creates a friendly and engaging tone, unless of course you wish to retain a more formal relationship between you and the recipient!
- Writing short e-mails might very well be the most productive use of your time, particularly if time is a limited commodity. You need to bear in mind however that not every one of your recipients will be aware of your time constraints; a brief e-mail could just as easily come across as a curt or abrupt e-mail. Focus on who you are e-mailing, and ensure that your reply is an appropriate response or opening communication to that individual.
- IF YOU CONSTRUCT AN E-MAIL CONSISTING OF NOTHING BUT CAPITALISED TEXT, THIS WILL INVARIABLY COME ACROSS AS SHOUTING. Additionally, excessive use of exclamation marks could be perceived as you being angry or annoyed! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Adopting this approach (even if this is the emotion you wish to convey) is counter-productive and is a very quick means of turning a potentially bad situation considerably worse.
- Signing off an e-mail with kisses (xxx) to some might seem perfectly normal, and will do so habitually, and others will do so in an attempt to sidle up to the sender in a veiled attempt at appearing close to them, however, it tends to make most recipients feel rather uncomfortable. It is therefore advisable never to use them, and if you do receive one, it would be wise practice to simply ignore its existence and not send one back.
- When concluding your e-mail, consider who you are sending it to; would “Best regards”, “Regards” “Thanks”, or simply “Cheers” be appropriate? Conversely, sending an e-mail without a closure will appear impersonal at best and rude at worst.
- It cannot be understated that a good e-mail signature is a very important part of a business e-mail. Not only does it reinforce your business identity, it also conveys a certain level of professionalism. With this in mind, make sure it’s not too complicated or gaudy. Your business logo, contact information, links to your website and social media and a disclaimer would be sufficient. In this regard, the simpler, the better.
- This might sound obvious, but sending your e-mail to the right person is vital. Quite often it can be tempting to start typing out the recipients contact name and then you select their e-mail address…but did you check that the ‘John Smith’ you intended to send the e-mail to was the correct ‘John Smith’? The rule of thumb here is never assume that the correct e-mail address will simply appear; always check that the e-mail address corresponds to the correct recipient. This neatly leads us on to the next point:
- There are innumerable stories of people who have inadvertently pressed the reply-all button to an e-mail and sent something meant for just the recipient to the entire organisation. This has the potential to set you on the fast track to the front door, so always double check which button you’re clicking.
- Text-speak, emoticons and extensive use of abbreviations are becoming ever more widespread in work e-mails, but we would strongly advise not to use them when contacting someone for the first time. Once you have built up a rapport, adopting this light-hearted approach can become more commonplace, but only if deemed appropriate.
- If you need to send an e-mail to many contacts, it is wise to consider how you intend on fulfilling this task. Using the ‘cc’ option (commonplace for internal e-mails) means that all can read the individual recipients’ e-mail addresses; the ‘bcc’ option keeps e-mail addresses private. For external e-mails it is not only courteous, but it is also good professional practice to keep addresses private when sending one e-mail out to various recipients.