Thursday, October 30, 2008

Email Etiquette tip: Follow “The Golden Rule”

Following the “Golden Rule” applies just as much in e-mail transactions as in other life situations. By embracing the concept that you should treat your recipients the way you want to be treated, your e-mail transactions will bring fruitful and productive returns.

So, as you consider whether to send an e-mail, compose a message, or respond to a message, ask yourself how you would react upon receiving the communication.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Email Etiquette tip: Save the jokes for your personal e-mail

We all know the person who continually shares many jokes daily with his or her group list. Most people “ugh” when they see these come through, especially when they’re trying to sift through their 100 other e-mails.

With so many people getting so much e-mail in their business day, the last thing colleagues and others need is another e-mail to open and to read. Rest assured that when your coworkers access their personal e-mail accounts, they will find enough uplifting jokes and inspirational messages there. Respect your recipient, and respect your business: stop with the personal stuff!

I can almost hear the groans when people open and read either a joke or an inspirational message that closes with the usual “Send this to 10 extraordinary human beings within the next 24 hours, or else..."

One of the frequent questions we receive from clients has to do with e-mail jokes and forwarded messages. “How can you tell one of your dearest friends that you really don't need to see the jokes or inspirational messages they send daily to their ever growing group joke list? You surely don't want to hurt the person or lose a friend.”

Here is one suggestion. Remember, the issue is best handled in person rather than by e-mail. Find a time when you are having a friendly conversation either in person or over the telephone, because an e-mail will most likely be hurtful. Be direct; say “it would be great if you could send me only your very best e-mails, because I am inundated with e-mail, though I could definitely use an uplifting message once or twice a week.”

Another solution is to create a separate personal joke email account, i.e., and ask your joking friends to send all future jokes to that account. You can then access it when you need a laugh, rather than to have to deal with it as part of your business inbox.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Email Etiquette tip: Always consider the recipient

Many etiquette blunders can be avoided by simply considering your recipient(s) and trying to “ receive” the message from their eyes. There aren’t enough etiquette rules to account for every situation, so consider the perspective of each recipient every time you send an e-mail.

Have you ever saved business e-mails from the previous week and sacrificed the weekend to handle them? If so, you probably felt like you were efficient and committed, figuring you were contributing to the organization’s productivity by using your precious personal weekend time taking care of business. You’re not alone: research shows that Saturdays and Sundays account for the highest percentage of “open and click” rates by e-mail users.[1][1]

In fact, when business e-mails are “saved” for weekend handling, it creates a huge e-mail bubble among the Monday morning recipients. People who think that they are giving more to the company by committing weekend time to catch up on their e-mail may actually be creating more challenges for their co-workers.

I worked for a boss who was a “weekend warrior.” Frankly, I couldn’t stand the thought of going to work on Monday morning. Before I arrived at the office, I knew I would have a minimum of 30, sometimes up to 50 e-mails from my boss. These were items that I could have managed the prior week, and some of them became unnecessarily urgent because he sat on them. It severely impacted all of his direct reports’ abilities to manage their workloads. Mondays were relabeled as “Stress-days.” We finally got together with him and convinced him to spread things out. What a difference that made!

[1][1] See “Q2 2006 E-mail Statistics: Breaking Down E-mail Behaviors and Trends” by eRoi, Inc., 2006.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Email Etiquette tip: Avoid emoticons, abbreviations, and smiley faces

While some of these may be cute, there is little need for them in a business environment. Emoticons sent via a business e-mail can paint an employee as puerile and unprofessional. Smiley faces should be left for personal e-mailing. In addition, unknown abbreviations can cause confusion.

For instance, do you understand the following message?

From: Howard
Sent: February 23, 11:16 AM

To: Betty
Subject: F2F Mtg Req

Am req a F2F w/ u ITNF, 2 discuss upcoming PRs. R U available Mon @ 3? Pls lv a msg on my vm, as I w/b OOO. L8R, H

Translation: Face to face Meeting Request

I am requesting a face-to-face meeting with you in the near future to discuss upcoming performance reviews. Are you available Monday at 3:00? Please leave a message on my voice mail, as I will be out of the office. Later, Howard

While some common and universally understood abbreviations—such as FYI (For Your Information) and EOM (End Of Message)—can be appropriate, others, like BTW (By The Way,) and TTFN (Ta Ta For Now) may be confusing. They may even prompt a needless return e-mail by the recipient asking what they mean.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Email Etiquette tip: Remember: the recipient cannot hear your tone

When crafting an e-mail message, always keep in mind that the receiver cannot hear your tone of voice or notice your body language. Be aware of the potential for misinterpretation, and create your message with the recipient in mind. By re-reading, you may be able to avoid misinterpretations.

Just remember, e-mail can not be equated to conversation. E-mail presents information in one dump, without any feedback. You can not see the body language that allows you to “read” the recipient, adjust your tone or respond differently. That is why it is unfortunately misread and misinterpreted regularly.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Email Etiquette tip: Beware the use of the BCC

Your use of the BCC option could be interpreted as backstabbing, end runs, or mistrust. Consider this e-mail blind copied to "the boss":

From: Howdy
Sent: January 19, 2:41 PM
To: Doodie
BCC: Boss Bob
Subject: 4th Quarter Training Report

Good morning, Doodie;
When do you plan to submit your 4th Quarter Training Report?

It was due the 15th, and this is now my third follow-up. I’ve received the reports from all other managers, and will appreciate your getting the information to me ASAP.


Before you use this feature, think about the reasons you are really considering doing so, and determine whether the use is truly necessary. Consider also how its use might make you look to other recipients. In the above example, it is plain to the BCC recipient that Howdy is “tattling” to Boss Bob. Very disrespectful. Very poor etiquette.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Email Etiquette tip: Do not share large lists of e-mail addresses via CC

Placing a large number of e-mail addresses of recipients who don’t know each other in the CC shares private information with many recipients. Indiscriminate copying can actually be viewed as an invasion of privacy.

Instead, either or enter the e-mail addresses in the BCC line or use the mail merge feature.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Email Etiquette tip: Personalize the message

This practice could be the easiest and most effective etiquette practice. By incorporating the person’s first name in to the body of the e-mail, you will go a long way in showing respect. A simple greeting—for instance, “Dear Donna,” Good morning, Harry,” or “It was nice to hear from you, Pat” —can show great e-mail etiquette in a matter of seconds.

Remember, everyone loves to hear (or see) their name.