Writing e-mails is much a part of business communication as talking in personal lives. Even though a large part of communication in our work lives happen through e-mails, we often find ourselves staring at poorly written mails, or worse still, sending emails that don’t reflect positively on our professionalism. This may be due to lack of familiarity with e-mail etiquette or we just do not put in enough effort in writing professionally correct mails.
The little errors may sometimes cost us a client, a job interview or congenial work relations with a colleague. Therefore it becomes imperative to know and follow universally acceptable e-mail etiquette.
Here are 10 email etiquette rules to ensure effective communication:
- Do not use all Caps in the subject line and the main text. That indicates shouting and may not go down very well with the reader.
- The subject line should indicate the essence of the e-mail and should be short and precise. An effective subject line will many times whether your e-mail is opened at all.
- Use proper punctuation. Too many “!!!!” or “…..” indicate a casual style of writing and may dilute the seriousness of the issue at hand.
- Spellcheck is crucial. Nothing is more distasteful than an e-mail filled with spelling mistakes. Also avoid using too many slangs and unusual acronyms, especially when writing to someone outside the organization.
- Grammatical errors are as undesirable as spelling mistakes. Grammatical errors can also lead to miscommunication and therefore extra care should be taken to avoid these. Take time to review your e-mail before sending it.
- Using too many graphics and colors in an e-mail can distract the reader and may also seem unprofessional.
- While sending attachments, note the size of the attachment – it should not end up blocking the receiver’s inbox. If it is necessary to send a large file, speak to the receiver first, asking if its ok to send a large file. Also confirm if the required software is available to view the file.
- Use Bcc and Cc judiciously. Bcc should be used when a mail is sent to a number of recipients who are not acquainted with each other. Cc, on the other hand is used when a number of people are involved in a discussion and need to be updated at the same time.
- The Reply All button should only be used when your reply is required to be read by all. Do not use it to demean or put another person down publically.
- Lastly, do not forget the salutation and valediction. Be courteous both at the beginning and at the end of an e-mail. Use phrases like: “greetings”, “good morning” or “hello” at the beginning of the mail. For ending the mail say “thank you”, “best regards”, “good day”.
These simple tips can be very useful in drafting professional and error free e-mails which can go a long way in ensuring effective communication.
For more on E-mail etiquette and other aspects of Business Communication look up the BizComm Model of Strengthscape.