Email Etiquette

Email Etiquette

Etiquette is defined as the business of being polite, considerate, and proper. defines ETIQUETTE as follows:

Conventional requirements as to social behavior; proprieties of conduct as established in any class or community or for any occasion
defines COURTESY as follows:

1. excellence of manners or social conduct; polite behavior.
2. a courteous, respectful, or considerate act or expression. defines POLITE as follows:

Showing good manners toward others, as in behavior, speech, etc.; courteous; civil: a polite reply.

To follow prescribed email etiquette, one much surely write politely, with consideration, and in a proper manner.

However, email etiquette applies, perhaps, to more than just the message itself.  One must truly put oneself into the position of the reader.

  • Do you want to be bombarded with emails?
  • Do you want to receive criticism through email?
  • Do you want everyone – in a “reply all”  - to be part of your communication?  Or do you want to make a comment intended only for one individual.

All of these factors come into play when you consider email etiquette.

In any ethical situation, you should consider the following:

  • Is it the truth?
  • Is it fair to all concerned?
  • Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  • Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

If you can consider the above (which are Rotary's Four-Way Test) before you act with email, you will find a much more effective and successful results than otherwise.

However, a few guidelines will be helpful:

  • Use an appropriate Salutation
  • Add a signature so that your reader will know who is writing (most important).
  • Add a short message to the body of the email. 

There is nothing worse than receiving an email in which the reader “assumes” that you know what is supposed to happen with a file that may be attached. 

  • "Assume” nothing. 
  • Be clear. 
  • Be specific.

If you are asking the reader to do something,  ask your reader's permission first.  

  • Do not thank in advance. 
  • That is presumptuous and offensive. 
  • Allow the reader the courtesy and the option of saying “No.”

If the situation warrants a personal telephone call

  • make the personal telephone call, rather than emailing.

If the situation warrants a personal discussion,

  • discuss the issue personally – not by email.

A few specific guidelines - Email Etiquette

Avoid an automatic “Reply All.”  Do not include others in an email communication who should not otherwise be included. Do not use “Reply All” when only the original sender needs to see your reply.

Take another look before you send a message.  If it can be misunderstood, it will be misunderstood.  Read with the reader's point of view.

Do not overload the reader’s email box with petty questions or concerns.  Think carefully and plan before you write anything, particularly an email.  

Clarify the subject.  Ensure that the subject of the email is accurate and reflects the content of the message.  If a response is needed, include that in the subject line.  Make the subject line succinct and powerful - like a newspaper headline.

Proofread.  Avoid writing in all capitals as that indicates shouting and is very rude.

Keep emails short.  Limit your emails to one topic.  If you have more than one topic to mention, consider separate emails for clarity.

 Break your message into short and easy-to-read paragraphs.  Always consider your reader.

There are many considerations with specific email situations, but the above guidelines should provide you a very good start – and get you into the habit of writing effective email communication.

Business tone.  Ensure that your business emails reflect a formal business tone.

LINK - Click here to learn more about Effective Email Communication.

LINK - Click here to learn more about Business Email.

LINK - Return from Email Etiquette to Writing Emails.