Nowadays people are more likely to communicate via email in the workplace than in person or on the phone. Who isn’t guilty of emailing a coworker who sits 20 feet away from them? However, as Uncle Ben said in Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” So, how can you use email in the workplace effectively without abusing it? Learn below on how to utilize proper email etiquette.
Use “Reply All” Sparingly
The Reply All button is great for businesses. It can get your response across the whole company if need be, but a lot of people ignore best practices when it comes to hitting Reply All.
- Do you really need to respond? Take a moment and ask yourself, “Does everyone need to read this?” Probably not. This is true especially if the original email was sent to distribute information.
- Answer the question. Typically a mass email is sent to get answers from a group of people. Don’t respond with “I don’t know.”
- Don’t use inside jokes. This just alienates the rest of the recipients, and it’s kinda mean.
- Don’t just say “thanks.” If someone emails the office to say they left donuts in the kitchen for everyone, you don’t need to Reply All with a “Thanks!” This just clutters everyone’s inboxes. Either respond directly or walk over to the donut bringer’s desk and say thanks in person. You can use the walk after eating all those Krispy Kremes.
- It’s okay to be silent. Only respond if you have something to say to the entire group—otherwise just respond to the sender directly.
Don’t Discuss Private Matters
Think about what you’re discussing in your email. Don’t ever send sensitive or personal information through your business email. This also applies to others’ sensitive information, such as salary or tax information. You should save these types of things for your personal email account or to discuss in person. Think about it this way: would you discuss this topic on a company letterhead or a bulletin board in the break room? If not, it’s best not to send it.
If you’ve given someone your business card or you have only spoken a few times, it’s great practice to introduce yourself. Don’t automatically assume the person you’re emailing remembers you. Simply jog their memory before starting your email.
Never Email When Angry
File this under “good ideas for everyday emails” too. Emails last forever. They can be forwarded and printed, so it’s best to never email someone when you’re angry. Those are words you can NEVER take back. Refrain from emailing employees with bad news or firing, laying off, or reprimanding employees via email.
Go Easy on the Exclamation Points!
Don’t use more than one exclamation point per email! Why?! Because it looks childish and unprofessional otherwise! Got it?!
Email was created for fast and easy communication. While you don’t have to respond to an email immediately, you should reply no later than 48 hours to a work email.
Use Correct Grammar and Language
Don’t use LOL, OMG, 4 U, NP, etc. in an email. Leave the shortcuts for chats, not professional emails. Better yet, don’t use slang, curse words, or emoticons either. While we’re not advocating creating rough drafts of emails and pouring over them voraciously for typos, give your emails a once-over just to make sure your grammar is correct.
Clean It Up
After you’ve replied to several email messages things can get messy with excessive carets (>>>>). Clean it up. Delete old messages in the reply that aren’t pertinent.
Be Clear in Your Subject Line
Don’t be vague in your subject lines. Get to the point and be simple yet descriptive. Also, steer clear of subject lines with all caps or exclamation points. Those tend to get flagged as Spam.
Practice Online Copywriting
Keep things short with lots of white space. Pretend like you’re writing for a blog or website. No one likes huge chunks of text in emails. Get to the point and be concise. Feel free to use bullet points. Your recipient shouldn’t have to dig through several paragraphs to get to your point.
Include a Signature
You don’t necessarily have to include this when replying to your staff, but your business contacts should never have to look up how to get a hold of you. Include all of your social media information in your signature, along with your company’s name, your title, phone number, website, and fax number.
Remember Your Reputation
Every email you send either builds or tears down your reputation. You want to come across to every contact as professional and collected. Make sure your emails reflect that.
Corresponding via email is nothing new, but everyone can use a refresher every once and while on how to have proper email etiquette. Business correspondence should always be professional, including the content of email marketing campaigns and faxes. (Learn more about email marketing software and online fax services.)