Email Etiquette

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VC_email_etiquetteAvoid embarrassing mistakes by establishing good habits

by Naomi Sheehan

Although email has been around for decades, its importance in the workplace only continues to grow.

In fact, smartphone technology now makes email preferable to a phone call in many situations because it is convenient, can be done from anywhere via phone, and is less obtrusive than a call or a text. This convenience is also what makes embarrassing email mistakes more common, says career coach Barbara Pachter. In “The Essentials of Business Etiquette,” Pachter lays out some ground rules for good email habits:

1. Use a professional email address.
Use your company email address for work-related emails. If you ever have to use a non-work email address, make sure the address conveys your name so the recipient knows who you are. Never use an email address that is
inappropriate for work (like [email protected]…).

2. Make your subject line clear and direct.
“People often decide whether to open an email based on the subject line,” Pachter notes. “Choose one that lets readers know you are addressing their concerns or business issues.”

3. Refrain from automatically hitting “reply all.”
Not every email needs to go to the entire team, even if the initial message was sent that way. Consider who really needs to be copied on your response.

4. Always reply to your emails.
Be brief, even if only to acknowledge that the message was received.

5. Mind your tone.
This means being conscious that humor can be misinterpreted and that people from different cultures communicate differently. What is funny or self-explanatory to one person might be interpreted as offensive or unclear to someone else. And use exclamation points sparingly. Too many can appear “too emotional or immature,” Pachter says.

Finally, Pachter recommends proofreading your message before sending it, including the subject line. Adding the recipient’s address last prevents accidentally sending an email out before it’s ready.

Not every email needs to go to the entire team, even if the initial message was sent that way.

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