Email has been around so many years now that you’d think everyone would know the proper protocol for conducting business via the internet. Alas, not so. Somehow I find myself chiding people’s electronic habits as often as I’m nudging their elbows off the table. Let’s review a few ways to keep your email etiquette in check:
One of the biggest crimes is to TYPE IN ALL CAPS! It looks like you are lazy, makes your message seem angry and overall gives a terrible impression of your professionalism.
Another mistake is using shortcuts for words. Gr8 is not a “great” way to convey you’re a professional. While it’s OK to use FYI, or ASAP, please be careful when selecting abbreviations for your correspondence in emails. Although email is less formal than a business letter, it’s still a reflection on you and your business.
Email should be concise. It is not the place for a lengthy discussion.
Be wary of overusing the “reply all” option. No one wants his or her inbox filled with needless communication. Select only those who need to be in the know, and use the “reply all” feature sparingly.
When ending an email conversation, it really isn’t necessary to send a “thank you” or any kind of response. Many professionals I know will say “No Reply Necessary” at the top of an email when they don’t expect or need a response. This saves time, and we all know that time is money. Email infractions may not cost you a job, just as sticking your elbows on the table won’t keep you from enjoying another meal. However, the lack of email etiquette might limit who you do business with, just as your table posture might determine if you are invited to dinner or eat alone.
Suzanne Willis is the founder of Willis Consulting & Communications in Naples, which specializes in contemporary business, social and children’s etiquette.