In the US, employees spend up to 25% of their workweek simply reading and responding to emails. Literally hundreds of emails, containing all sorts of correspondence are being dealt with on a weekly basis.
Despite the we spend so much time communicating through email, the truth is most people (perhaps yourself included) still don’t use their email appropriately, lacking the etiquette every professional should know.
With such a high volume of emails passing through our fingers, the likelihood of an error is greater, and this mistakes can have embarrassing and serious consequences.
Take a look at this essential list of rules you need to know:
- Always include a clear subject line – be direct and specific in your subject lines. Use them to clearly identify the content of the email, with such phrases as “meeting time changed”, “details of proposal”, or “questions about invoicing”. Oftentimes people decide whether or not to even open the email based on the subject line, so it is important to choose one that makes it clear you are addressing a concern or business issue.
- Choose a professional email address – whenever possible it is ideal to use a company email address, but if you are required to use a personal email address then you should choose it carefully, or get an account for professional purposes only. Humor is not likely to be well received when attending to important business matters, so the address should be short and professional, clearly indicating who the sender is.
- Think carefully before hitting “reply all” – sometimes hitting reply all is a nuisance. Recipients are then forced to read a stream of emails that have nothing to do with them. Reply all is a fantastic feature, but should only be used when you are sending information that may be beneficial to more than just the original sender.
- Make sure you have a signature block – a signature block is a great way to provide the recipient some information on who you are. Make sure to keep your signature block simple, in the same font as he rest of the email, and avoid including artwork or anything too flashy. Make sure it has your full name, position, and further contact information.
- Keep salutations professional – “hey”, “yo”, and other laid-back terminologies have no place in a professional email. While it is important not to be too stiff and formal, relaxed writings are frowned upon, especially in salutations. It is appropriate to say “hello” or “hi”, but be sure to use their proper name, no short forms unless they prefer it.
- Refrain from over exclamation – exclamation points are a great way to add energy or enthusiasm to what you are saying but refrain from over-using them. Using multiple exclamation points when writing can make you appear emotional or immature, and does not portray a professional image. Less is more when it comes to exclamations.
- Approach humor with caution – humor that is not face-to-face can often get lost in translation without voice intonations and facial expressions to back it up. Humor is best left out of professional email exchanges, as it leaves the door wide open for conflict, as not everybody will take a joke the same way or find the same things funny.
- Understand the different speaking and writing styles of different cultures – cultural differences are often to blame for miscommunication. Do your best to tailor your message to the receiver’s cultural background, or how well you know them. Culturally speaking some people will prefer to be more personal in their correspondence approach, taking the time to get to know each other a bit, whereas others will prefer a more direct and to the point approach. Always try to know who you are dealing with and their preferred style of communication.
- Answer your emails – even if they weren’t intended for you – it can be difficult and overwhelming to reply to every email you receive, but you should always try your best to. This also includes emails that are accidentally sent to you, especially if seems urgent or requires a response.
- Take the time to proof-read – despite what you may think, your recipients will notice any errors in your email, and yes often times, you will be judged as a result. Never rely on spellcheck alone, it is important to take the time to proof-read them yourself as well. Spell check ad auto-correct are infamous for embarrassing blunders, and you want to avoid that happening to you.
- Add the email address last – to avoid accidentally sending an email before you have finished, or had time to proof-read it, always add the email address last. As an extra precaution, you should remove the email address when replying until you are finished with the draft. It is also critical to double-check the email address before finally clicking send. It is easy to mistype an address or select the wrong recipient off of a list, which could be embarrassing, or means someone isn’t getting important information they need.
- Stick with classic fonts – multiple colors and outrageous fonts might not be the way to show your fun-loving personality that you thought it would be. There is no place in a professional email for these things. Emails should be simple and easy to read, as generic as possible. Keep to standard 10 or pt. font size and a classic font such as Arias or Calibri.
- Watch your tone – in the same way humor can be lost in translation, the intended tone of an email ca easily be misunderstood. Being too short can lead someone to think you are upset or angry when in reality you just wanted to be straightforward. To avoid misunderstandings read your message aloud to yourself before sending. If something seems questionable or is harsh, it will seem the same way to the recipient. It is advised to avoid using negative words, and always include please and thank-you to keep your tone friendly.
- Remember nothing is confidential – there is a trail for every electronic message sent, and it is important to remember this. Always assume others will see what you write, so don’t write anything you wouldn’t want to be seen. Never write something hurtful about yourself or anyone else because you never know when the message may resurface.
Want to know more about professional etiquette? Contact One Up Solutions Northwest at (503) 278-5011 or firstname.lastname@example.org to hear more.