If you are communicating something important in an email you must stop and think before hitting the send button. Too often I receive misspelt messages that can sometimes be totally incoherent or unclear as to what is needed from me in return.
Emails are written communication
Many emails I receive I assume are written as the person would speak but this doesn’t always translate well into the written word. Its fine if I know the person but if I don’t it quite often comes across as rather rude. Part of the problem is that email is used as a form of communication that serves multiple purposes.
We “ping” messages to our friends and family, using email to send brief notes and photo attachments in a casual tone. Unfortunately, there are times when we adopt a less than professional tone when sending emails to colleagues and clients. Emails are not chats in spoken language when they are between professionals and a different email etiquette is required according to the email recipient.
Etiquette may seem a quaint, somewhat old fashioned term to use for such a 21st century staple of communication but communication itself does need some rules if it is to be effective.
How to implement email etiquette
To avoid miscommunication and offending the person you are emailing there are some steps you should consider before pressing send.
- When it is important to get your point across or make something clear write the email but then save it as a draft. Go back to it the next day and re-read what you have written. This way you can ensure it is saying what you mean and want it to say and you have a chance to amend anything before pressing send. This then saves on embarrassment or the content being misconstrued because you did not take the time to think about it.
- If you are responding to an urgent email, try to keep your points simple, to the point and clear. Read the email out loud to yourself before sending and you will get an idea of the tone
- NEVER send anything by email that is confidential or could be compromising if it fell into the wrong hands. Convenience is no substitute for discretion.
- DON’T USE CAPS…in email language this is seen as “shouting”.
- Can you pick up a phone and achieve a better result than an email? The danger of over reliance on electronic communication is that the alternative forms of communication are abandoned.
- Can you put yourself in the other person’s shoes? How would you feel if you received this email?
- Does the tone of your email reflect your professional or personal image?
Email etiquette is really about understanding the appropriate use of language and tone and speed. Emails are convenient- they are very useful when you want to send information across distance swiftly but that does not mean being lazy with your writing. You cannot see the other person’s face or explain yourself if they react badly, so you need to be considerate of their response.
When you write an email you share a part of yourself. Emails create an impression about you as a person – make sure it’s a favourable one.