May 17, 2014
You probably receive and respond to dozens of emails every day. But if you're not careful, you might come across as unprofessional to colleagues or too stern to clients. Because it's such a frequent and important form of communication, make sure to follow common etiquette rules.
Here are the first five ways to improve your email etiquette:
1. Don't wait too long to respond. You should respond to emails as quickly as you'd respond to a phone call. If you can't respond when you read the email, create a task to remind yourself to reply later that day. That way it can't slip your mind. A good rule of thumb is to respond to all emails within 24 hours.
2. Use an informative subject line. You want to make it easy for the recipients to scan their inboxes and know what your email is about. Make sure the subject line isn't left over from a previous message, which can happen after multiple replies. It should summarize the content of the current email.
3. Keep messages brief and use the appropriate level of formality. Depending on who you're emailing, your messages can vary from very formal (emails sent to opposing counsel) or informal (to a friend). When writing formal emails, avoid using emoticons and slang. No matter who you're emailing, be brief and start with the end in mind.
4. Put your contact information in your email signature. No matter who you're emailing you want them to be able to contact you without going on a manhunt for your phone number. Having your contact information readily available is also important in case you've set up a meeting – the recipient can view your office's address in the email.
5. Don't forget: Tone isn't conveyed well through writing. Try to keep your emails polite and straight forward. Oftentimes the reader can't tell if a certain line is meant as a joke or if the tone is angry. Avoid sarcasm and humor – especially with clients.
A quick tip – if you feel you need an exclamation point, capital letters, italics or an emoticon to express your meaning, you should rethink your message and how you can better express it.
Don't become careless when you're trying to get through your inbox quickly. Remember to respond to emails as soon as you can and if you have to come back to it later, set yourself a reminder. Keep your messages brief and be conscious of your tone.
Look out for the next five ways to improve your email manners.