Email Etiquette: Tips and Tricks for Better Communication

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With many employees still working from home, clear communication has never been more important. And since email is the no. 1 method of communication among business professionals, refreshing your memory about best email practices can ensure your company’s workflow continues without a hitch.

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Take a closer look before sending

This can’t be stressed enough…re-read your email before you send it. Make sure it’s going to the right person/people. Check for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Grammarly is an excellent tool for this. When downloaded, it integrates across multiple platforms (even texting apps) to ensure your spelling and grammar are correct. It’ll even suggest a better way of saying something.

There are horror stories upon horror stories of personal emails being sent to the wrong person and so littered with typos it’s embarrassing. Even if you’re in a rush, take time to check your email before sending.

If you don’t have Grammarly, write what your email in Word doc (as it catches more mistakes than your email platform) and then copy and paste it into your email.

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Let people know their email has been received

Nothing is more frustrating then not knowing if an email has been received. Especially since emails get stuck in outboxes and sent to spam folders so often. The courteous thing to do is confirm receipt of an email.

Depending on the recipient, this can be an informal “Got it!” or a formal, “Your email has been received.”/

Let people know their email has been received and prevent delays in projects so you can reach your goals in a timely manner.

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Be careful using all caps (or just avoid it)

Everyone has received an email (or even a text) that’s in all caps. It can be both comical and unnerving. While it’s generally best practice to avoid using all caps, it can be useful for adding emphasis. But using all caps too frequently makes your email look tacky, illegible, and hostile. There are better ways to get your point across.

Bold letters, italics, and underlined phrases add emphases without looking hostile.

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Stop “replying all”

No one likes never-ending message chains. For starters, it’s annoying having your email ping every few seconds with replies…especially if they don’t pertain to you. If your response to an email doesn’t require the attention of everyone cc’d…don’t Reply All. Depending on the message, this can be embarrassing and/or damaging to your reputation, your co-worker’s reputation or the company’s.

I know it can be difficult to break bad habits but force yourself to double check that reply-all hasn’t been selected before you push that send button.

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Write clear, concise subject lines

People get tons of emails daily. Without a clearly written email subject line, your email is bound to get lost in the crowd and go unanswered for hours if not days. The best subject lines are clear and concise, leaving no guesswork as to the nature of the contents. If it’s of high importance, flag it as such.

Subject lines are also an area where all caps are accepted. Since you can’t bold or underline text in an email subject line, all caps is one of the best ways to get someone’s attention. You can also try bracketing words to get your email noticed. For example: [IMPORTANT], [PLEASE OPEN], [RESPONSE NEEDED] are sure fire ways of getting your email seen among the clutter.

But only use this if your email is indeed important or time-sensitive. Otherwise it’s click-bait and no one likes click-bait.

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Explain why you CC’d or Forward that email

It’s not always obvious whose been cc’d on an email. Out of courtesy, give the recipient a heads up so that they don’t reply with sensitive information, leaking it to the wrong person.

In that same vein, when forwarding an email, be sure to explain what it is you’re forwarding…don’t just leave the body of the email blank. This is rude and lazy and forces the recipient to have to scroll down to figure out what the email is about. Something as simple as “Here’s the document you requested regarding X, Y, and Z.” would suffice.

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In conclusion

Jobs have been lost and reputations tarnished because of poor email etiquette. So, take it seriously. Especially during these strange times. Clear email communication is going to be vital to the stability of your business while social distancing protocols are in place. Responding to an email promptly is important but don’t sacrifice quality for speed. Take the time to make sure you’re following good email practices.

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