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Professional Etiquette For Emails
With that said, we all know that messages can sometimes end up in the wrong hands or can be taken out of context. Here are some email etiquette tips to avoid misunderstandings and keep your emails professional and appropriate.
Using a clear and direct subject line will increase the likelihood of someone opening your email. Choose a subject line that lets the recipient(s) know that you are addressing their concerns or issues. Good examples include “Meeting date changed” or Suggestions for the proposal.”
For company correspondence, use your company email. If you need to use your personal email account for whatever reason (self-employed, occasional work-related issues), be sure that your email address is professional. It might be time to retire your email name from your teenage years and create one that conveys your name so that recipients can identify who is sending the email.
Much like group chats, replying to all can be an annoyance. Unless everyone can benefit from the message, be mindful when using “reply all.”
It is wise to give your reader some information about yourself. Signature blocks generally include your full name, title, company name, and contact information (including a phone number). Some people opt to add accomplishments or a quote, but remember not to go overboard. Also, use the same font, size and color as the rest of the email.
Avoid using laid-back expressions like “Hey you guys” or “Yo.” Instead, keep salutations formal and use “Hi” or “Hello.” Also, try to avoid shortening anyone’s name (unless you are positive the person prefers it).
Use these sparingly. Sometimes people get carried away with exclamation points, which ends up portraying the writer as too emotional or immature. If you would like to convey excitement, limit yourself to one.
Although something may be funny verbally, it may not translate properly into text. For professional communications, it’s best to avoid making jokes unless you know the recipient well. Remember, what is funny to you may not be to others so when it doubt, leave it out.
Thanks to cultural differences, miscommunication can occur easily, especially through text since body language and tone are missing. You should tailor your message to the recipient’s cultural background and how well you know them.
Keep in mind that high-context cultures (Japanese, Arab, Chinese) value getting to know you before doing business, so it is common for business associates from these countries to be more personal in their writings. Whereas people from low-context cultures (German, American, Scandinavian) prefer to get to the point quickly.
Reply To Your Emails
It is understandable that with a high volume of incoming emails, you may not be able to answer all of them. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try. If an email was erroneously sent to you, and especially if the sender is expecting a reply, it is courteous to respond and inform the sender of their mistake.
Proofread, Proofread, & Proofread Again
While you may miss minor mistakes, your recipient likely will not, and may even judge you for them. Don’t let spell-check be the only way you proofread your emails. Read and reread your email a few times, and, if you wish, have a trusted colleague take a look as well. He or she can offer insight on tone and delivery that you may not have noticed.
Add The Email Address Last
A great trick to prevent accidentally sending an email before it is ready is to add the email address last. Even if you are replying to an email, delete the recipient’s address before you begin your response. Only when you are sure your email is ready is when you should input the email address.
Double-Check Your Recipient
Once you add the email address, double check that it is correct. When typing in the name, it’s easy to select the wrong one. Taking a few seconds to check the recipient address could potentially save you some embarrassment.
Keep them classic. Comic Sans in different colors was fun in grade school, but when it comes to business communications, stick with a classic, easy to read font. Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman in size 10-point or 12-point font in black are safe choices.
Much like humor, you should be cautious with your tone. Because vocal cues and body language are missing, your tone could easily get lost in translation. Try reading it out loud to yourself, or have a trusted peer look it over and get feedback. You should also avoid negative words such as “failure,” “wrong,” or “neglected” and always say “please” and “thank you.”
Nothing Is Confidential
There are many examples that can easily prove this, but always keep this in mind. Avoid writing anything that could be damaging or hurtful to yourself and others. It is better to be safe than sorry so be wary of what you send electronically.
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