07 January 2019
I think we can all agree that email is the WORST. It never ends – in fact, one study found that US employees spend a quarter of the workweek combing through emails. A quarter! Let’s all follow these unwritten rules of email etiquette so that the people receiving our emails don’t want to scream at the screen.
Give the recipient a reason to open your email. For example: “Suggestions for project proposal,” “Quick question about today’s presentation,” or “New meeting date.”
Try to keep your emails short and sweet. In the first few lines, explain why you’re emailing and what you need from the other person. Then, include the relevant deets.
This will make your email scannable and more likely to be read.
These are some good ones:
Email chains are conversations, so after the first reply you don’t have to type that again.
If you’re emailing someone for the first time, briefly intro yourself. No need to write your life story – just mention your full name, position, and any connection to the other person (e.g. if you met at a PR event, remind them of that).
People are judgy. If your email is full of misspelled words and grammatical errors, you’ll come across as careless and sloppy. It takes a minute to read over what you wrote, and spellcheck does half the work!
My name is Katia, but I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten that are addressed to Katie. They usually end up in the trash.
Do you meet a lot of people in your line of work? If you’re an event planner, sales rep or journo, you definitely do. When you meet someone, add their email to your address book with a note about how you met and what you talked about.
During the workweek, it’s common courtesy to reply to emails in 1-2 days. If you don’t have an answer yet, hit reply and let the person know you’re working on it and will get back them in X amount of time.
Because if it was the other way around, you’d want to know.
If you read our blog about passive-aggressive emails, you’ll know the sending says it all! When in doubt, “Thank you” or “Cheers” is fine.
Job hunting? It’s time to update the firstname.lastname@example.org email address you made up in year 7. Your email address should include your name, so the recipient knows who’s emailing, and hardly any symbols/numbers.
Email is public, hackable, and very easy to forward. So, don’t write anything that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see. If you have sensitive or confidential info to share, it may be better to mail it or pick up the phone.
You might think you’re bloody hilarious, but you may end up confusing or offending the other person. Unless you know the recipient really well, you’re better off saving the funny stuff for face-to-face chats.
End the email cycle (!) by closing with “Thank you again,” or “See you at the meeting on Thursday.”
Maybe you work for a global company. Maybe you have clients all around the world. To avoid miscommunication, learn a little about the culture of the country your recipient lives in. For example, people from ‘low-context’ cultures (e.g. American and German) like to get down to business ASAP, while those from ‘high-context’ cultures (e.g. Chinese and Japanese) want to get to know you before working with you.
It doesn’t matter how much you love your job. You’ll be seen as a twat.
We’re all chugging along, so please don’t remind us that it’s only Tuesday.
It’s lazy. On that note, avoid “FYI,” “Hi” or other subject lines that don’t tell the reader what’s in the body of the email.
Remember the boy who cried wolf? If you say that everything’s ‘urgent,’ nobody will believe you when you do send a critical email.
This is like replying to a text with “K.” It’s abrupt and kinda rude.
15 rounds of emails or a 5-minute phone call? I’m already dialling.
Feel free to write the email – but put it in your drafts folder and open it when you’re feeling calmer.
Email is a pretty impersonal form of communication. If you made a mistake, decided to hire someone else or your client pulled out of the deal, pick up the phone. If you have to relay bad news via email, do your best to be objective.
Unless that person has told you they go by a nickname, don’t give them one. Maybe Jennifer hates when people call her “Jen.” Who knows?
Our inboxes are clogged enough as it is, without being looped into emails we don’t care about. Ask yourself, “Does [name] need to know about this?” If the answer’s no, cut them out.
Thanks to pop-up messages and phone notifications, it’s hard to ignore emails from 30 people saying, “Yes, I’m in!” and “I’m soooo sorry, I have a wedding that day so I can’t make it.”
Set up an automatic signature that tells the recipient a) who you are and b) how to contact you.
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