This post has been a long time coming.
Another one of my pet peeves is the way people use office e-mail.
I had written a post some time ago on professionalism. In re-reading it, I realized I needed to expand upon a biggie: e-mail etiquette — the one thing that people, especially young employees, don’t bother paying attention to.
Remember, e-mails can easily be forwarded, so be wary of what you write.
Guess what happens when your LOLs about the boss’ purple and gold jacquard tunic worn over bright red velvet leggings find their way to her inbox?
You may be ROTF minus the L as a result.
Don’t let momentary foolishness — or oversight — get in the way of your career path.
Read on for some handy tips to extend your professionalism to your outbox.
- Do not use emoticons
- Use correct spelling and proper grammar
- Wait to Fill in the “TO” e-mail address
- Make your e-mail reader friendly
- Be courteous
- Use a relevant subject line
- Do not assume familiarity with the recipient unless you actually know them
- Don’t send large attachments without forewarning
- Do not overuse the high priority option
- Acknowledge e-mails
You know, those smiley faces or winks that you just can’t resist adding to the end of a sentence when you think you’ve written something clever? Don’t use those for business communications. They not only detract from the message, they also show the recipient you don’t know how to differentiate between personal and professional communication.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Use a dictionary or a spell checker. Most desktop e-mail clients have in-built dictionaries. Use them. But note, that the spell checker will not pick up incidental errors. Always review your e-mail after the spell checker gives you the green signal.You don’t want to be the person who wrote to your female boss:
“Can we meet when you’re a little less busty?”
What’s the rush? Complete writing your e-mail and check it for any grammatical and/or spelling errors before you fill in the name of the addressee. This will keep you from sitting in your manager’s office for a premature evaluation.
Use short paragraphs and blank lines between each paragraph. When making a point, harness the power of those numbered or bulleted lists. E-mail is meant to be a quick, concise medium. Leverage the power of the medium — this is not your love saga unfolding; it’s professional communication.
I hate when people use red text in the body of the e-mail to denote something is important. Or when they use all caps. I wonder how mad they were when typing the e-mail. If something is important and you want to call attention to it, bold it, or underline it — don’t go around e-yelling!
Include a subject that is meaningful to the recipient as well as yourself. E-mails with blank subject lines get easily overlooked and those that say: “Happy Friday!” in the subject, but contain a message about a significant deadline is likely not going to get opened.
She may be called Pat; he may like being called Pete, but unless they sign their name such in an e-mail to you, please refer to people by their proper given name. Don’t assume that Michael the CEO will be ok with you calling him Mikey in an e-mail where the Board of Trustees are CCed.
Do not send large attachments without first checking with the recipient. And please don’t forward images of LOL cats to your colleagues — if you’re really friends with them, you’ll know their personal e-mail address. Use that for the laughs.
It’s like the boy who cried wolf. Use of the high priority option denotes a special status for email — not every e-mail you send can be an emergency. Choose wisely.
I’m one to auto-check my e-mail account every 30 seconds. I also reply to e-mails as soon as I receive them … or within the hour. It is courteous and generally expected that you will reply to official e-mails (that aren’t high priority) within 48 hours of receipt. If you are unable to send a detailed reply within the 48-hour time-frame, at least send a short acknowledgment and let the sender know by when to expect your reply.
Please, set up an auto-reply If you will be out of office for more than one day. We don’t care if you’re sipping bottomless margaritas on Cancun’s white-sand beaches — all we want to know is when you’ll be back!
A lot of first impressions are made via office e-mail … you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons.
Got more tips or anecdotes to share?
Go ahead then, type in that comment box …