In an era when we’re as likely to text our colleagues as email them, is it really important to abide by old fashioned email rules? After all, so many of those rules derive from when we still wrote letters and sent them by post – or at least by fax. As much as we might like to skip the formalities, the truth is that etiquette still matters, especially in the business world.
Of course, no one is expecting a full fledged letter in their inbox, but when you’re compiling an email, here are 3 etiquette rules you’ll want to keep in mind. They’ll make a good impression on clients and coworkers, and stand you in good stead in your professional relationships.
State Your Subject
When you’re trying to filter through a busy inbox, isn’t it always a relief to see a clear subject line telling you what to expect inside that email? Do your coworkers and clients a favor and extend this courtesy to them as well. Come up with a succinct way to describe what you need or what you’re writing about and put it in the subject line. It will help everyone organize their day and manage their emails more effectively.
Gauge Your Replies
How many people are included on that email message? If the number is too high, it may be time to reconsider your contact approach. In the past, you might just have called a meeting, but today you have more options. When you start “reply-ing all” to a six or more people, it might be time to call a virtual conference. It will be easier to organize everyone’s feedback this way.
If the number of participants on the email is a big smaller, but you’re not sure how some of them got there, take a second and review the email chain. Maybe you think only the original sender needs your reply, but if the original sender is your boss, follow their lead. They may be distributing information to another necessary party.
Proofreading is a key part of email etiquette because it shows that you care about the recipient and about corresponding in a professional manner. That’s why you should always check over your emails for typos, grammar mistakes, and incorrect punctuation – and always make sure you’ve spelled everyone’s names correctly. If you realize you’ve shot off an email with an egregious spelling error in it, check whether your email has a recall option. If not, send a correction right away.
Not terribly certain about your spelling skills? Run your email through the spell check, but don’t rely on it too heavily – there are plenty of correct words that aren’t what you intended, as we’ve all learned through the autocorrect feature. Turn off your autocorrect to avoid those changes and ask a trusted colleague to review your most important correspondence.
Email etiquette isn’t exactly the same as traditional letter writing etiquette, but ultimately the underlying message is the same – what I am writing is important and you, the recipient, are important. Show your colleagues that you respect their time and their work by emailing responsibly. Everyone will appreciate it.