Office email etiquette every professional should know
Receiving a lot of emails is not an excuse for not replying. (Shutterstock)
Let's face it, no one is allowed not to have email these days. Some of us are proud of themselves for deactivating their facebook accounts, or not signing up for one in the first place but it's just not possible that you were born after 1940 and don't have email. It has become a very basic thing even for those who chose not to have a smartphone. If you live on Earth you need to communicate with others online.
You might think that in this age and time, sending an email as easy as writing a text message on your smartphone. It can be done at anytime and without much thinking. But such false perceived convenience is why many fail in doing that. Without paying attention, you may make some embarrassing mistakes.
The next time you want to write an email, remember these seven rules for writing professional emails:
1. Write a clear, short subject line
Examples of a good subject line include "Meeting date changed," "Quick question about your presentation," or "Suggestions for the proposal."
Speaking from a personal experience, emails that don't have a subject line are often the last to be open if not ignored completely. Similarly, choose a subject line that is precise and direct to let the reader know what you want.
2. Use a professional email address
If you work for an organization, you should use your organization email address. But if you are self-employed or just using your personal account for other reasons, make sure your email address conveys your name so that the recipient knows instantly who's sending the email. Using an emails address from your school days that typically has a nickname in it is a no no.
3. Learn when to use "Reply" and "Reply all" buttons
This is a very common mistake in the world of corporate email lists. A colleague you've never met in India has left the organization and his/her co-worker sends a fare-well email to everyone on the regional list, who have never met the guy either. What happens next is that many start using the "Reply all" option, which naturally results in a huge number of unwanted emails in your inbox.
While sharing is nice, no one wants to receive 100 replies that have nothing to do with them. Imagine when the receiver gets notifications of new emails on their smartphone too!
4. Use punctuation marks correctly
No one likes to receive an email without any periods or commas. It's the nightmare of email correspondence when you have a long email consisting of 5 paragraphs with no spacing or punctuations. Even short emails with un-ending sentences are difficult to read.
Use punctuation marks as much as possible but refrain from using exclamation marks unless you feel very excited about something, in this case you may use it once. Adding more than one to the end of any sentence will make you appear immature or emotional.
5. Be aware of the cultural differences
"Lost in translation" is what happens when someone translates a phrase from their native language to a foreign one, and sometimes the same phrase gets translated back to the 1st language causing the original meaning or parts of it to be lost. But language is not the only barrier here as other cultural differences can also cause miscommunication especially in the writing form when you can't see the other person's facial expressions and body language.
Do your best to tailor your message based on the receiver's cultural background, taking into consideration how well you know them.
6. Reply to your emails
You receive tens of emails every day, but that's not an excuse for not replying. You should try to reply to every email message sent to you, including emails that were sent to you by mistake and intended for someone else. It's common courtesy to reply even if the sender is not expecting one.
7. Review your email
You can make the wrong impression on someone if you don't proof-read your email. Many forget to go through their email one last time before sending, leaving a number of mistakes that make them appear unprofessional or careless.
One last tip; leave the sender's email address to the end to avoid any accidental half-email sending.
By Shaden Abdulraman