The Dos and Don’ts of E-mail Etiquette

med234025In today’s world of ever-growing technology, e-mail is used frequently, but not always correctly. Here are some dos and don’ts to help improve your e-mail etiquette.

E-mail Dos

  • DO know the purpose of your e-mail and make sure you are making your point in a clear and concise manner.
  • DO know your audience and if they rarely use e-mail, a letter or phone call may be a better method of communication.
  • DO ensure the subject line relates to the e-mail content.
  • DO spell check and proofread your e-mail prior to sending.
  • DO check the tone – how will it be received?
  • DO make sure you have the correct recipient (i.e., check your mailing list).
  • DO remember to type unto others as you would have them type unto you.
  • DO answer all their questions.
  • DO be careful when using HTML and attachments. HTML may not be readable by some e-mail tools. Some e-mail servers will block HTML, large attachments, or certain file type attachments automatically.
  • DO think of a work e-mail as a binding communication.
  • DO have a friendly salutation and provide a signature, contact information, and company website.
  • DO store needed e-mails in a long-term folder as you see fit.

E-mail Don’ts

  • DON’T be too lengthy.  If you have a lot to say, send a memo, letter, or provide details in an attachment.
  • DON’T use e-mail to avoid an uncomfortable situation or to cover up a mistake.
  • DON’T send an e-mail out of anger. It’s easy to get heated up, and with e-mail we feel anonymous. We often write things that we would never say to someone’s face. If you are upset, step away from the computer and cool down. Ask yourself if you would say this to the person if you were face to face. If you wouldn’t say it, don’t send it.
  • DON’T write in ALL CAPS as this could be perceived as an angry tone.
  • DON’T send confidential/private information via e-mail.
  • DON’T use e-mail for anything that will reflect badly on you or anyone else if it reaches the wrong mailbox. Remember that anything you send can become public property. It can be forwarded, saved, and printed by people it was never intended for, and can be used as proof in a court.
  • DON’T use e-mail for anything obscene, libelous, offensive or racist.  This does not belong in an e-mail, even as a joke.
  • DON’T use e-mail for messages that can be easily misinterpreted. Because we don’t have the tone of voice or body language to give us further cues, people often question what an e-mail means.
  • DON’T keep people waiting for a response. Answer as soon as possible. A good time management rule to use for standard response is within 24 hours.

These are just some of the more basic tips we often overlook or forget.  They are many more resources and e-mail etiquette tips available on the Internet. Do you have any favorite tips or e-mail pet peeves you’d like to share?

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