How To Format The Closing Of A Block Style Letter Email Etiquette: How To Send Emails People Will Read

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Email Etiquette: How To Send Emails People Will Read

You may remember a time before there was email… a time when communications in most organizations were more formal and followed strict lines of protocol. Email has done wonders for breaking down some of the bureaucracy and hierarchy of communication within organizations; today virtually anyone can talk to anyone (and everyone) within an organization with the click of a mouse, which can have both exciting and devastating implications. Email brought with it a new informality in business communications and a new abbreviated vocabulary and style of communication, but it did not come with instructions. Overtime, a generally unspoken email communication code emerged. Master email etiquette and not only will you be on safe ground, but people will enjoy reading and responding to your emails.

Your signature. Use your email program to create an email signature block that will be automatically attached to all your outgoing messages; it’s a bit like email letterhead. It saves you the effort of including your contact information every time and adds a professional touch to your communications. You can simply include your name, company name, contact details and website or you can also include a sentence or two about your company, a special promotion you’re running with a link to your website or even a funny quote or favorite inspiration.

We are all different. Be careful when creating email signatures and stationery to keep it simple: just because it looks good on your computer doesn’t mean it will make it to the other end in the same format. How your stationery will be displayed depends on your recipient’s email software – what looks like a smart email design on your screen could easily turn out to be an incomprehensible mess on the receiving end.

Think sharp. Because email is a screen-based communication, we must write for the screen, not the page; think and write in bullet points. The days of long, wordy business memos are over for most communications. Keep your sentences short and to the point. Better to capture longer content as an attachment that can be printed and read.

Size matters. Be careful when sending email with attachments, especially to people outside your organization: not everyone will have the same file size and quick access limits as you, and a large attachment can block your recipient’s email account for many minutes.

If your email account only offers a small amount of storage, be sure to clean up your files regularly to ensure you have the most space available and to prevent “bounceback errors” from being sent.

Watch your tone. Business communications used to share a rather dull and formal tone of voice and an official-looking design. Email, being much more informal and conversational, allows for a casual and personal approach, but this can lead to misinterpretations, people can misinterpret your tone of voice, especially if they don’t know you. There are ways to reduce the chances of inadvertently causing offense, such as: not capitalizing words or entire sentences (capitalization in e-speak indicates yelling); always using a greeting (‘Hello’, ‘Hi’, ‘Good morning’ and ‘Good afternoon’ are probably more common and appropriate than ‘Dear’ which is still used in printed correspondence); and using emoticons like :o) or :o( can be friendly and help clarify your tone or mood.

Spell chceck. Email makes each of us an instant author, and that’s not necessarily a good thing! Always proofread your emails before sending them to make sure they make sense and to correct any spelling or grammar mistakes. I recommend that you set up your email to automatically check the spelling of each message before it is sent. And if you need a second opinion for clarity, tone, or correctness, ask a colleague to review it for you. It may be inconsequential to you, but a poorly worded email that conveys the wrong tone and is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors can destroy your credibility and your relationships.

Respond quickly. Because of its immediacy, people expect quick responses to emails. A response within 24 hours is probably as long as most people consider appropriate. Your email practices will educate others about what to expect from you in email communications: If you respond quickly, people will expect you to always respond quickly; if you set a 24-hour benchmark, people will also learn what to expect from you, and of course, there will always be those emails that require your immediate attention. Whatever you choose as the right email change, let people know what to expect and be consistent.

Schedule the email. Email messages popping up in your inbox all day can be a huge distraction, especially if your email is set up to alert you every time new mail arrives. Checking your emails and responding to them as they come in not only distracts you from the tasks or projects you’re working on, but you can also take away an entire day, responding to other people’s needs while your own are neglected. Schedule a couple or more times a day to check and respond to emails instead of constantly searching your inbox or being sent there by your email program with every new message.

Out of the office. Use your “Out of Office” email if you are unable to respond to emails in your usual time frame; this may be because you are away, or you may choose to use the “Out of Office” response for added peace of mind. time as you continue to manage other people’s expectations of when they can expect to hear from you.

Use your BCC. In your email address block, in addition to the “To” field, there are usually two other “CC” (carbon or courtesy copy) and “BCC” (courtesy or blind carbon) field names are backslashed to a long time ago when people used typewriters and carbon paper to make copies of the documents they were creating. In email, the BCC is the field we can use to send an email to someone without the other recipients knowing they were on the recipient list or being able to see their email address. If you are sending a mass email, put the addresses of all your recipients in the BCC field; protect your privacy by not revealing your names or addresses to each other and make your email communications “neat” – each recipient does not receive a long list of other recipients’ details in their email.

Who needs to know? Email makes it so easy to include as many people as needed in one communication. The downside is that some people stop taking responsibility for thinking about who needs to know what and just copy everyone. Think about who needs to act on your email and who really needs to read and be aware of it and include only those people in the recipient. list If you have multiple people in an email distribution, list their names in the body of the email along with what they are required to do and by when.

Use with caution. The ease and immediacy of email make it a communication tool to be used with caution. The wrong email sent to the wrong person or people can have devastating implications. I know of one person who was fired after inadvertently sending the wrong email to a list of people, and in doing so, passed on sensitive information that not only harmed the individuals, but exposed the organization to legal action for breach of privacy; I know of others who have embarrassed themselves and others by sending bad gossip emails; and I know a few friendships that ended on the rocks by sending the wrong email to the wrong person. Be careful using email; once you click that “send” button, it’s gone.

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