Those who work in business know just how much time is taken up by reading and replying to emails. Due to the pandemic and so many people working from home over the past year, there are even more emails being sent. With this in mind, the topic of email etiquette has never been more relevant.
It can be easy to type up a quick reply and press send or reply to all but what does the email say about you? In the absence of face-to-face meetings, emails are how you interact with your colleagues, clients and managers. In fact, studies have shown that those who send emails with grammatical errors will be judged more harshly, compared to those who don’t. You may be seen as less intelligent, conscientious and even less trustworthy, all of which can have a detrimental effect on your career.
Fortunately, good email etiquette is easy to adopt and will ensure that you are never pre-judged due to a poorly written communication.
Too many people send emails with a vague subject line that doesn’t indicate what the email is about. Considering our inboxes are often full, the subject line is incredibly important as it summarises the content within. Keep your subject lines short, informative and professional and avoid simple greetings such as “hello”.
As already mentioned, poor grammar and punctuation within an email can influence how you are viewed by colleagues. Therefore, ensure that you proofread emails before you send them. It’s also important to write in full sentences- beginning with capitalised words and ending them appropriately, with a full stop or semi-colon.
Generally speaking, work emailing should remain professional and respectful. It can be difficult to strike the right balance between too casual and too formal but when in doubt, err on the side of caution. Avoid overly negative words or sarcastic jokes as these can fall flat over email. Also, try not to be too casual or familiar with your language as this may come across as unprofessional.
It can be easy to fall into casual language such as shortened words or slang but this isn’t appropriate within work. Also, whilst exclamation points can be used, try to stick to a single use per email as too many can seem overly enthusiastic.
Confidentiality and Security
Never assume that a “private” email will always remain private. There have been countless cases of an email being leaked to the entire company, or in some instances to the wider internet. When composing your message, try to remain within the public sphere. When in doubt, ask yourself whether you would be comfortable with the entire company knowing this information- if the answer is no, don’t include it.
In a similar vein, it can be potentially dangerous to include confidential data within emails. This includes everything from phone numbers and addresses to banking information and credit card details.
Greetings and sign offs will differ according to who you are talking to via the email. For example, when communicating with a co-worker, hello/thanks are perfectly fine. However, when talking to a superior or a new client, more formal greetings should be used.
Speaking of sign-offs, it’s always beneficial to include a signature within your emails that displays your name and contact details. This way, the recipient doesn’t have to go out of their way to get in touch with you.
If a topic is sensitive, complex or personal, the best option available could be to call the person, instead of emailing. As we have discovered, intentions can be misread over email and sometimes a quick phone call can save much needed time and effort. If you’re unsure in how to approach a message, it’s a good sign that a phone call is the way to go.
If you employ good email etiquette, you’re showcasing yourself at your best, ensuring that your colleagues and clients see you as professional and trustworthy.