How important is your e-mail to you? To me, well, it’s more than just for convenience. I check my e-mail account on a daily basis. Almost everyone has an e-mail account. And by that, I’m sure that most people will agree to me that sometimes, some e-mails are just difficult to read or understand, no? I receive a lot of badly composed e-mails everyday, and so I thought, I should find out about e-mail etiquette and talk about it.
I looked around, searched on the internet, dug through my mountain of books, and found something which I think is rather good.
The importance of e-mail etiquette (taken from the last page of January-March 2007 issue, SriPentas magazine. I got it from my visit to err, SriPentas).
You may not be working in a company, but heck, e-mail etiquette is as important as any other kinds of etiquette, no? So please, stop sending me chain letters already for God’s sake! And well, the ‘thread’ thing is important, too. I’ve been communicating via e-mail for quite some time now, and I realized how some people like to delete the previously written message so the e-mail looked clean. Now, that’s a bad idea. Why? Because I can’t always remember everything from the older messages, can I?
By Dawn M. Jeremiah
“E-mail etiquette refers to a set of do’s and don’ts that are recommended by business and communication experts in response to the growing concern that people are not using their e-mail effectively or appropriately.”
(Flynn & Flynn, 2006)
Why do we need e-mail etiquette?
Using proper e-mail language conveys a professional image. E-mails that get to the point are much more effective. It can also protect your company from lawsuits from badly composed e-mails.
Try to use a subject that is meaningful to the recipient as well as yourself. For instance, when requesting for information. It is better to mention the subject matter and what it is pertaining to, e.g. ‘Thursday Nite Live: List of Invitees’ rather than just ‘TNL’.
Proper spelling, grammar and punctuation
Improper spelling, grammar and punctuation give a bad impression of your company. It is also important for conveying the message properly. If your program has spell checking, why not use it?
Proper structure and layout
Reading from a screen is more difficult than reading from paper. Use short paragraphs and blank lines between paragraphs. When making points, number them or mark each point separately.
Once you send that first e-mail, you will probably get a response. The wrong way to reply to that response is by starting a new e-mail message. This breaks the link (called a ‘thread’), making it difficult for readers to follow the sequence of messages, especially after several exchanges. This is an even larger problem if several people are replying to the same message. The correct thing to do is to reply to the original message (use “Reply to All” if there are many recipients).
Try to avoid abbreviated names or numbers. Do include your e-mail address. It is best to include your title and company name in the signature.
Each customer e-mail should be replied to within at least 24 hours. If you’re busy, just send an e-mail back saying that you have received it and you will get back to them.
Personal e-mails sent from the office are regarded as official company communications regardless of content and could possibly expose you and your company to unnecessary risk. Scary, huh?
Do not forward chain letters. Just delete them when you get them.
Set meetings in advance
Don’t assume people will read an e-mail the minute they get it. Remember, e-mail is not designed for immediacy (that’s why you have a telephone), it’s designed for convenience.