By Randy | September 24, 2007
About 171 billion e-mails are sent each day according to a 2006 study! This amounts to nearly 2 million e-mails sent every second, and although 70 per cent of them are spam and viruses, about 1.1 billion of us send legitimate e-mails. But that doesn’t mean we’re always sending appropriate e-mails. In fact, because e-mail is so one-sided, your witty quip may be perceived as snotty by its recipient, your attempt at humor distasteful. This is because while e-mail excels at speed and efficiency, it lacks personality. There are no facial cues, no innuendos and no clues given by tone of voice that let a reader in on the message’s intended meaning. The result can be disastrous! A professional e-mail that sounds too personal, a familiar one that’s too stiff or, worst of all, a flamer.
In the 21st century, e-mail is essential. So, then, is learning the proper e-mail etiquette so that your e-mails get your message across, and nothing more.
- Proof your e-mail before hitting send. Is it polite? Spelled correctly? Offensive?
- Only send the e-mail to those who need it and are directly involved.
- Keep it short and simple. One subject per e-mail is best.
- Make subject lines count. Write “Meeting today at 11” instead of just “meeting.”
- Don’t forward personal/confidential information. If you need to forward on an e-mail that contains confidential information, make sure you have the writer’s permission to do so.
- Use the “inverted pyramid” as a writing guide, putting your most important statement first.
- Know when not to e-mail. Sometimes, a face-to-face meeting or a phone call really is necessary, such as when you’re relaying complex or very important news.
- Use proper formatting. People read e-mail differently than they read a piece of paper, so make sure your point is heard. Keep paragraphs short!
- Avoid using ALL CAPS! This makes it seem like you are screaming your message. If you want to emphasize a point, *asterisks* can be used around the phrase.
- Limit your use of the “high-priority” flag. If you use it too often, it won’t have an impact when something really is high priority.
- Use emoticons (those little smiley, or sad, faces) sparingly, and only with people whom you are very familiar with.
- Rather than including an entire original message in your response, insert a snippet that you’re responding to in brackets.
- Avoid flaming e-mails. Don’t write a mail until you’ve cooled down.
- Resist getting caught up in back-and-forth e-mail arguments. Step away from the argument for a while, or make a phone call to try and clear matters up.
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