Email Etiquette, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Just recently I received an email from a company who was representing a reputable business organization.  Unfortunately for the business organization, the company representative did not generate good will.  Apparently email etiquette is still not practiced by all.

Implemented properly, email can be a superb tool for businesses.  Incorrectly used, it can cause disastrous problems.  Let’s take a look at some ways email is good and bad; and how we can improve business and personal communication using email.

First, email is not a substitute for a phone call or personal meeting.  Email is impersonal and without careful attention to syntax, can cause ill-will.  All emails need to have a proper subject line; let the person know why you are sending them an email, it doesn’t have to be overly long.

Every email is not a high priority.  If each email you send is set to a high priority status, then it will be treated as if it came from the boy who cried wolf.  Save the use of high priority for those times when it is truly important the email be responded to promptly.

Write the email as if you are being graded, because you are.  While a person may not say what they are thinking, email with spelling errors, grammatical issues and other faux pas do register and are a representation of you.  Use upper and lower case letters where appropriate.  If the email is written in all lower case, it shows the person really doesn’t care.

Email is not instant messaging or texting.  In an email there is no 140 character restriction.  This seems to be a trait by those fairly new to the world of technology and communication.  Use of proper English is always apprectiated.

If it’s important, pick up the phone.  Many times a question can be answered or a resolution found by simply talking to the other person.  If emails keep going back and fourth like a tennis ball, be the adult in the room and call the other party.  Also if the discussion is of a sensitive nature, use the phone, it will be greatly enhance your image.

Stop before pressing the Send button.  Take some time to reflect on your message and make sure it will be interpreted in the manner you hope it to be.  If time is not of the essence, let the email sit in the draft folder overnight, as you may have a new perspective on it in the morning.

If you use Web based email in addition to a program like Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express, there are some additional steps you should incorporate into your email process.  When sending an email from the Web, use the CC to send the email to yourself.  This provides you with the ability to store the email in the proper Outlook folder when you get back to your desk. You could also move the sent emails from the sent folder.

Remember, an email may last forever!  Don’t put something in an email which may embarrass you or your company.  If you wouldn’t say in on the 6:00 news, don’t put it in an email.

This article was written by The Boss of HITman Services, a computer and IT company, based in Clifton Park and serving the Albany, Troy, Schenectady and Saratoga Counties of New York.

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