Often the first contact we have now with a potential client or employer is through email. It’s the first opportunity we have to make a good, or conversely, a negative impression.
When you send an email with mistakes it makes the recipient think that you are sloppy and inattentive to details, implying that your work will also be sloppy. When you send an email that is perfect, it gives you the halo effect, implying that you and your work will be top notch.
If you want to get ahead in the workplace, follow The Etiquette School of New York’s “Top 10 Email Etiquette Dos for the Professional.”
The Top 10 Dos
- Use the subject line to state the purpose of the email. An email with a relevant, or specific subject is more likely to be read. For short email, you can use the subject line only: “I’ll meet you at 1:00 p.m. today for lunch in the reception area.
- When there is more than one recipient list them alphabetically. Or according to hierarchy. It avoids offending anyone. Why is his name first?
- Keep emails brief. In this age of information overload, it’s important to keep emails brief. You don’t, however, want to come across as rude. Try to add some “nicety” like “I hope you had an enjoyable holiday season” before getting to the subject. It’s a bit like small talk before a business meeting.
- Be cautious with reply all. If you receive an email that was sent to a number of people, including yourself, think about who needs to see your reply; you don’t always need to send it you all of the recipients. In fact, often, you should not—particularly if it is a sensitive issue.
- Respond to emails within the day they are sent. If someone sends you a question and you don’t have an answer or the time to fully answer it, a simple acknowledgment with a promise that you will give the email your full attention at a given point is preferable to not answering it at all.
- Do use uppercase and lowercase letters and check your spelling and punctuation. An email in all caps is hard to read. Using all uppercase letters is considered shouting and is rude. As an alternative, use the asterisk or exclamation point to emphasize key words. Spelling mistakes or grammatical errors reflect badly on you, making a negative impression. So always proof your emails before pushing the send button.
- Do use the telephone or meet with someone in person if you have confidential information to share with them. Emails can be duplicated, forwarded or printed, so don’t send or say anything in an email that you wouldn’t want repeated to the entire company. Remember, there is no such thing as privacy in cyberspace.
- Skip the fancy decorations. Flashing symbols, bouncing smiley faces, known are emoticons, and vivid colors should be left for personal emails; they are very unprofessional.
- Avoid sarcasm or subtle humor. If you are not well acquainted with the recipient or are dealing with foreign clients who often don’t understand our sarcasm or humor, it is better to keep the tone of your email formal and polite.
- Avoid mood mail. It is better to avoid sending an email that contains strong emotions. If you are angry or upset with someone, take time to calm down before writing the email. Emails should be especially avoided in circumstances, such as firing or reprimanding someone, or ending a contract. If you feel that your email may be misinterpreted or that you will regret sending it, file it in your drafts folder and look at it again later before sending it, or perhaps not sending it.
(The Etiquette School of New York/ By: Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick)