Mastering Email Etiquette: Tips and Tricks

Knowing how to conduct yourself in terms of email etiquette can be a rare skill these days, especially since most folks aren’t taught the rules when they get their company email or start a new job that requires communication via email. Usually, you pick up all the do’s and don’ts as you go, rather than receiving formal training on it. Email communication is so common these days that it’s often just assumed that people know what they’re doing. But, since it is such a common form of communication in the digital age we live in now, not knowing what’s acceptable can affect your reputation and relationships with others in and across the workplace.

Emails, emails everywhere! They’ve become part of our daily grind, especially when you’re on the clock sitting behind a PC screen. But if you’re like me, you’re likely sending as many emails from the couch in front of the television when you’re home (although I have to hide it from my wife when I do so), and you’re possibly sending a decent number from the bathroom cubicle – albeit a rather unsanitary way to get work done. But just like there’s a correct way to hang your toilet roll in the lavatory, there’s also a right way to deal with email communication. Yep, it’s called email etiquette, and it can be a pretty big deal in the professional world. So, rather than be the one who’s sending email messages that confuses or offends your colleagues or the one that could jeopardise your business relationships with your lack of understanding of the various email customs – fear not, this blog post’s got your back with some super helpful tips and tricks to help you master email etiquette.

The Importance Of Proper Email Etiquette

Let’s dive into the importance of proper email etiquette!

First and foremost, having good email etiquette is essential for maintaining professionalism in the workplace. Whether you’re communicating with colleagues, clients, or your superiors, using the right tone, language, and formatting can make a big difference in how you’re perceived. Improper email etiquette can lead to misunderstandings, and confusion, and can harm professional relationships, and some of these situations can have significant consequences.

Here are some reasons why proper email etiquette is important:

  1. Professionalism: Using proper email etiquette shows others your professionalism and can help you to establish a positive reputation in your workplace. It can show that you’re respectful, organised, and reliable, which are important qualities in any professional setting.
  2. Clarity: When you use the right email approach, it can make your messages super clear and straightforward for the people receiving and reading them. This way, they won’t get mixed up and confused about what you’re trying to say, which can save everyone a lot of time and hassle.
  3. Efficiency: When you use proper email etiquette, it can totally level up your communication game. By paying attention to the details you need to focus on and being straight to the point, you can avoid a whole lot of back-and-forth and reduce the number of emails you have to send.
  4. Respect: Knowing how to write an email is not just about using fancy words or perfect grammar. It’s also about being respectful to the person you’re emailing. You want to make sure you’re using an appropriate tone in your email messages. In most (if not all) instances you’ll want this to be a friendly tone, showing appreciation for the time of the one who will read your email, and being mindful of their preferences. By doing so, you’ll strengthen your professional relationships and create a positive impression on those you connect with.
  5. Legal implications: It’s also worth noting that emails can sometimes be used as legal evidence. So, by sticking to good email habits, you can avoid any legal troubles and keep yourself and your organisation safe.

In today’s digital world, knowing the dos and don’ts of emailing is a must-have skill for anyone who wants to maintain a professional image. By mastering email etiquette, you can ensure that your messages are clear, concise, and respectful, while also avoiding any legal issues that may arise. So, read on for some awesome tips and tricks on how to nail your email game!

Tips For Effective Email Communication

Tips For Effective Email Communication

  1. Be Clear and Concise: First of all, use short, easy-to-understand sentences wherever possible, and unless you’re confident that the recipient of your email has a good understanding of jargon or technical terms try to avoid using that type of language and use layman’s terms instead.
  2. Use a Professional Tone: Even if you’re emailing a friend or colleague, it’s important to maintain a professional tone. So, wherever possible, avoid using slang or informal language that can often come across as unprofessional.
  3. Use an Appropriate Subject Line: Your subject line should accurately describe the content of your email, so the recipient knows what to expect before they even open it. Then, if you begin to email back & forth and the topic of your communication thread changes, it can be a good idea to begin a new email thread with a totally new & applicable subject line. This becomes especially important when it comes time to find that email on a certain topic in a month’s time, or possibly after several years. I worked for a business once where Tradie Managers used to (lazily) pick up the last email you sent them and hit the reply button to ask you about something completely unrelated to the original email thread. For this same business (and this is more difficult to correct & fix) I had clients that would leave the subject line blank. And, full disclosure, this used to irritate me to no end!
  4. Use Proper Salutations and Sign-Offs: You should address your recipients with a proper salutation (e.g., “Dear Mrs. Smith”) and you should sign off with an appropriate closing (e.g., “Kind regards” or “Sincerely”). I used to work with 2 different Managers that had 2 different standards for this. The first would say, “You should always write ‘Dear’ Mr so & so.” So, she would have an exclusively formal approach. Another, however, would say, “If they say ‘Hi’, you should say ‘Hi’ back to them. If they say ‘Good Afternoon’, you should respond with the same greeting or the same level of formality.” I’m personally fairly happy with either approach as long as you do your best to be consistent and are in line with your company’s policies and procedures in this area.
  5. Use Emphasis and Formatting Sparingly: Overusing bold, italics, or underline formatting can be distracting and make your email harder to read. So, use emphasis and formatting sparingly. Do your best to only use text formatting to draw attention to the most important information.
  6. Proofread Before Sending: Always proofread your emails for spelling, grammar, and formatting errors before hitting send. A poorly written email can detract from your message and leave a negative impression. Another helpful tip can be to leave the ‘To’ field blank until after you’ve proofread your email. This way it can’t be sent to the relevant destination until you’re sure it makes sense.
  7. Understand The Rules For Confirmation Replies: Most companies will have rules around whether confirmation responses are required or not. These can be global rules for all staff, or they may be specific to your team or department. Be sure you understand what these rules are and when & where they apply. Having been a Manager of staff within several large businesses, I’ve experienced many times how it can be redundant (as well as fairly irritating) when you send an email out to a large group and you get dozens of (potentially) unnecessary replies to your group communication which simply say, “noted” or “copy” or even a just well-intended “thank you”.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your emails are effective, professional, and well-received by the recipients.

Common Email Mistakes To Avoid

Email communication has become an integral part of our professional lives, and it’s vital to be aware of common mistakes that can undermine the effectiveness of your emails. Here are some common email mistakes that you should avoid:

  1. Not proofreading your emails: It was noted in the positive above, but it’s such a common mistake that it’s worthwhile noting it again in the negative – sending an email with typos or grammatical errors can create a negative impression on the recipient. So, always take the short time required to proofread your emails before hitting send.
  2. Being too casual or informal: While it’s important to adopt a friendly tone, being overly informal or using slang can be unprofessional and disrespectful. Remember to maintain a professional tone and use appropriate language.
  3. Writing lengthy emails: Long emails can be overwhelming and time-consuming for any recipient to read and have to digest. So, as much as possible, keep your emails concise and to the point. Using bullet points or breaking up your text into shorter, well-structured paragraphs can also make your emails easier to read and understand.
  4. Forgetting to include a clear subject line: This was another one which was stated in the positive above, but it’s such a common mistake (in my experience) that it needs to be mentioned again – a clear subject line helps the recipient to understand the purpose of your email quickly. Make sure your subject line accurately reflects the content of your email. You’ll thank me for this if & when it comes time to find a particular email a month or even years later.
  5. Using the wrong email address: Sending an email to the wrong recipient can be embarrassing and unprofessional. Always double-check the recipient’s email address before sending. Although auto-fill functionality can be the friend of efficiency, it’s often not the friend of accuracy.
  6. Using all caps or exclamation points: Using all caps or excessive exclamation points can come across as aggressive or unprofessional. Avoid using them in your emails, unless it’s necessary and appropriate to the context of the email message.
  7. Neglecting to attach files: Forgetting to attach files that you’ve referenced in your email can be frustrating for the recipient. So, double-check that you’ve attached all relevant files before sending your email.

By avoiding these common email mistakes and practising proper email etiquette, you can improve your communication skills and build stronger professional relationships.

Mastering email etiquette is a must-have skill in today’s digital world, especially in the workplace. By following the tips and tricks provided in this blog post, you can ensure that your email communication is professional, efficient, clear, and respectful. Remember to avoid common mistakes like typos, incorrect recipients, and inappropriate language, and always consider the legal implications of your emails. With practice, you can become an expert in email etiquette and improve your communication skills, leading to stronger professional relationships and greater success in your career.