Everyday Etiquette – Writing an E-mail

E-mails are a huge part of the modern-day workforce and education system.  We are constantly interacting with people via e-mail in both a professional and a casual manner. One of my BIGGEST pet peeves is when people forget social etiquette in an e-mail.  Here a few tips for the next time you write an e-mail to your boss, professor or co-worker.

Remember, sending an e-mail to your boss shouldn’t have a different tone than anything you would ever say to him in person.  Even if you two are friendly, it can still be inappropriate with-in the context of the workplace to send an e-mail that is anything less than professional.

What does this mean? Don’t use abbreviations or emoticons. A sentence can still express a positive feeling without a smiley face at the end of it. Also, try to stay away from the caps lock button.  Words in all caps portray yelling in the virtual world, and if you really need to reprimand someone, it’s probably something best done face-to-face.

Please, please, please, proof read your e-mail before you click send. Once that e-mail is gone, there is no getting it back. It can make you look unprofessional if you send something to a co-worker, or worse, a client with multiple typos.  Double check the spellings of all names and check all dates.

Sometimes, e-mail isn’t the best method of communication.  If you have something that will take a long time to explain, or have a matter that needs to be handled immediately, it might be best to pick up the phone and give that person a call.  Sometimes we become so reliant on e-mail, that we forget that there is another communication option.

On that note, it is also best to keep personal conversations out of the picture at work in e-mails.  I have found that many people will use e-mail as a crutch when they don’t want to talk to the other person face-to-face about a difficult issue.  Gossiping is also a huge no-no.  You might not have liked the way that Bill made the coffee this morning, or what Sally wore to work, but when you write it down, it becomes a permanent document that can be seen by anyone.

Even if you are just sending a short, one-sentence e-mail, it is still necessary to include a salutation of some sort.  And no, your automatic signature doesn’t count.  At least throw in a “thank you.”  Ideally, it is standard to use a short but warm salutation.  I use “Kindly,” but have also seen “Kind regards,” “Best wishes” or “Warmly.”

If you keep all of these things in mind, you might just see a difference in the way that people interact with you in person!

Have any other e-mail tips? Shoot me an e-mail to reston@thedandelionpatch.com.

Catch y’all next time,