Emails are the most extensively used mode of communication in the corporate world. Letters are rare now and even phone calls have become uncommon. Emails are simple, easy and convenient to quickly contact and keep your co-workers on the know-how. Yet, I am continually surprised at how often people misuse this medium. These few etiquette can help ensure that your mails resonate with the people you sent them to:
- Know the difference between “To”, “CC” and “BCC”
As a general rule, the more people you send an email to, the less likely they are to respond to it, much less perform any action that you requested. The “To” field should be used for the people the mail is meant for or you are expecting a reply from. Now, there are some other people who need to know what’s going on. The mail might not be for them nor are they expected to reply to it. This is where “CC” can be used to keep them in the loop. Need to announce something to a bulk of people? Use “BCC” to relay the information. People you include in the “BCC” field will not be visible to others.
- Be Brief and Concise
Let them know in the beginning what the main purpose of this email is. If necessary, provide details on it afterwards but make it clear what the main point of the message is so that (s)he doesn’t have to go through the whole message trying to figure out the purpose. Those mails would most likely be set aside and, unfortunately, forgotten.
- One e-mail for One Subject
If you need to discuss more than one subject, send out multiple e-mails with the proper subject. This not only keeps the mails brief and easier to find but also has a greater likelihood of a response.
- Reply on Time
There are times when we don’t know the answer to a particular email or we won’t have the answer till next week. Instead of setting the mail aside for next week, write back with a simple email saying “I should be able to get back to you about this by early next week.” Takes 10 seconds and you haven’t left anyone hanging.
- Your Tone Matters
You can express yourself differently while face-to-face with someone or on phone. However, you have to be mindful of your tone while writing emails so as to not offend them unknowingly. Sarcasm is especially dangerous here. Keep you mails to the point and as matter-of-fact as can be.
- Remove CAPS
Avoid writing in caps. This is the digital equivalent of shouting. Besides ALL CAPS are harder to read than normal text. This is a general rule in the corporate world.
- Grammar and Spell Check
As the one publishing the content, it reflects on me. If I have misspelled words, used bad grammars or punctuation, then it reflects negatively not only on me but the company as well. Sometimes, grammar and punctuation go by unnoticed but there is no excuse for miss-spelt words. Make use of your spell checker.
- Re-read your e-mail
This is not only a good practice but it helps in understanding the flow and structure of the mail as a whole. Also, sometimes my fingers cannot keep up with my brain and I end up leaving a word or two behind. This is always a good email etiquette and it ensures that you are getting your point across in the way you wanted.