Be Brief (and Other Tips on Email Etiquette)

By October 14, 2013 No Comments
Shocked man at computer

Shocked man at computerEmail is a wonderful tool in that it allows you to communicate quickly.  That’s the idea, anyway.  But the intended message can easily be lost in an ill thought-out email.

Follow these tips to communicate professionally with colleagues and supervisors:

NO YELLING!  Using all caps in your correspondence can come off this way.  This sort of emphasis in email is the written equivalent of shouting.  Except in extreme circumstances (“FIRE!!”), yelling at co-workers, subordinates or a member of the leadership team could be a disastrous move.  You don’t want to be thought of as the office hothead.  Choose your words – and your tone – just as carefully in written form as you do in verbal communications.

Come to the point, already.  Time is money; make your words count.  Reading long, rambling emails costs your recipients valuable time and composing them takes at least twice as long.  When lengthy discussions are necessary, it’s probably more efficient to pick up the phone.

Err on the side of caution.  Some things just don’t translate well over e-mail.  Sarcasm is one.  Even lighter humor can be misinterpreted.  Better not to risk offending your colleagues, so keep the jokes to a minimum.

Address your recipient(s) thoughtfully.  They’re not automatons.  A nice greeting and salutation can go a long way.  This sounds like Communication 101, but also, don’t forget your “pleases” and “thank yous.”  No matter your position, requests are more well received when they’re made respectfully.

Go ahead and read the message again before sending.  Giving your email another once-over should help you spot phrases or sentences that may be misunderstood.  Also, we’ve all heard of (or personally experienced) the unintentional “reply all.”  Particularly if you’re sending a sensitive message, make sure it’s going to the appropriate party or parties, and only them.

Perhaps you won’t lose your job because of an error in judgment when it comes to email, but you may just put a serious dent in your reputation.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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