How’s your email etiquette?

Email etiquette
I came across the findings of a recent survey by CPP Inc which looked at communication technologies and email etiquette in the workplace.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, email is still regarded as the main cause of confusion. 64% of respondents said that they had sent or received an email that unintentionally caused anger or resentment.

Top gripes from recipients were too many ‘reply alls’, confusing, vague, overlong emails and poor grammar. Email senders cited no replies, misinterpreted messages and brusque replies. Do these sound familiar?

Interestingly CPP also recommends combining Myers Briggs ‘personality awareness’ with email etiquette. Extraverts may benefit from sending fewer emails and being more concise. Introverts are sometimes too brief, missing out important details and pleasantries.

Five quick email etiquette tips

1. Use a meaningful subject line
Help your reader prioritise your message with a useful subject line. Instead of ‘Meeting’ try ‘Agenda for Project Meeting 15 July’

2. Don’t send spam
Instead of hitting ‘reply all’ by default, think about who is in the ‘To’ and ‘CC’ fields. Do they really need to see this?

3. Use a greeting and a sign off
A simple ‘Hello (Name)’ and ‘Kind regards’ sets a professional but friendly tone. You don’t have to worry too much about pleasantries if you include these.

4. Get to the point
Answer the important who, what, when questions in the first two (short) paragraphs. The background and detail can wait, if they’re needed at all.

5. Don’t use emphatic punctuation
ALL CAPS, multiple explanation marks!!!! and emoticons 😉 just confuse readers. Yes, we can see you’re emphasising something. But what?!?!

A little email etiquette can go a long way towards reducing conflict and confusion in the workplace. By respecting the needs of readers there’s a higher chance your emails will be read, understood and acted on.

Good luck!


PS Do you or your organisation need help with email or business writing skills? Click here for details of my business writing courses and one-to-one coaching.

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