10 Things you must know about email etiquette
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Let us focus on email etiquette in this post, for despite a barrage of new communication methods, email is here to stay as the most important form of business communication.
1. Do not refer to anyone as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’. Just use Mr or Ms. Importantly, avoid Mrs, Miss, Master, Shri, Shrimati, Thiru and such cultural honorifics.
2. Do not use abbreviations and acronyms. If used, always expand them during the first instance. Never assume that people will recognise PFA as ‘Please find attached’, WRT as ‘With respect to’, YTD as ‘Year-to-date’, etc. or annoying abbreviations of everyday phrases like OOO for Out Of Office! You can type these three little words!
3. Avoid cliched phrases like ‘for your kind perusal’ (Do you really know what ‘perusal’ means? Google now!) Cliches, like a friend said, are undervalued because they are overly used. Therefore, if you don’t want the content of your email to be ignored, undervalued or trashed, then say something ‘meaningfully’ new.
4. Use the grammar check feature that is built into almost every email tool. Stop using wrong constructs like ‘I cannot be able to’! This also requires you to know your grammar rules, as well as develop an eye for detail to help you avoid costly grammar errors.
5. Break complex sentences down into two or more simple sentences. Always use the active voice, and be as word-stingy as possible. Write with the aim of setting a less-than-one-minute reading time for the recipient. Long winding sentences are confusing!
6. We know the Comic Sans font is bad for office use. Use pleasant sans serif fonts like Verdana, and set font size to 10 or 12, clear black. Leave a line between every single sentence for a pleasant reading experience. You must ensure that your emails are not cluttered and clumsy, since such emails are a put-off.
7. Always use a non-animated, non-flashy, simple, clear-formatted easily-copyable signature line. Error-proof and update the signature line periodically.
8. Double check recipient’s email ID, and copy to people only if they really have a stake in the content of the email. Never spam and never copy others just because the email tool has that feature! Also, remember always to include everyone in the ‘bcc’ column if you are bulk-mailing.
9. Never attach big/heavy files to clog the inboxes of others. Use secure file uploaders, and there are many such ones like Google Drive. It is convenient for both sender and recipient.
10. If you think emails will not do the job fast enough, do not email. Go talk to the guy!
The fact is that you must always employ the appropriate communication arsenal when interacting with others. It is only then that you will have the guarantee of an effective communication process in which the intended message is sent and the expected feedback is received.
Ram is a Communication Professional with a leading American automobile company