This Old In-house: Email Etiquette

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Whether you or like it or not, poorly executed emails will negatively impact the receiver’s opinion of you, the sender. It’s not that complicated to get it right but you will have to develop some habits that may take time to set. Follow these simple tips and you’ll be covered.

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  • Respond to your emails right away. Even if you don’t have an answer, let the sender know you received their missive and will get back to them.
  • Use spell check. Most email clients allow this function to be set up to execute automatically. Clients and managers aren’t going to trust you with a complex project if you can’t spell correctly.
  • Use correct grammar. If you’re unsure about this, at least on your more important emails, have a co-worker who has a decent command of proper English proof it.
  • First, make sure to use a salutation. Second, match your salutation to your audience. If you’re emailing your peer, “Hi” or “Hey So-and-so” is fine but don’t try that with the VP of Marketing where a “Hello Ms. VP” or “Dear Ms. VP” (or first name if appropriate) is called for.
  • End your letters as appropriately as you’ll now be starting them. Create a proper signature that includes your name, title, company and contact information.
  • Use bullet points when you need to use an email to communicate a logistically complex message. Bullets or a numbered list make it easier for the recipient to digest and recall large amounts of information.
  • Don’t use email when a call is the better choice. Let’s face it, we all have used email to avoid having to get on the phone with a client or manager, but some communications involve so much information that an email is not a good fit for the communication. There are also times when information that will upset the recipient needs to be handled with a call. As difficult as that may end up being, your client or manager will respond much more positively (and respect you more) if you deliver the bad news by phone or in person.
  • Always follow up any important conversation with an email recap. It gives your client or manager a chance to make sure you heard what they intended you to hear. It’s a good CYA in case your client chooses to conveniently forget or misremember an important conversation and it also tells your client or manager that you took them and the conversation seriously.

It will take time for these habits to take hold, but when they do, you will have become an email-meister with the props to show for it.

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