Despite more and more types of business collaboration tools getting introduced, email remains the number one way we communicate with one another while in the workplace. Meaning proper formalities need to be observed. Doing so helps make a decent impression on clients, your colleagues, and management, particularly now as most of us are doing remote work.
Using the right language and formatting each time means establishing your professionalism to those you’re in contact with, as well as helping get your message across without any ambiguity.
With that in mind, here’s how to improve your email etiquette.
A professional email address
First off, proper email etiquette begins with emails from a business address instead of a personal one. Utilizing a personal email for business matters can be seen as unprofessional, particularly if the email involves confidential information.
There are additional benefits to keeping your work and personal email addresses separate. You won’t lose anything, confuse lines of communication, or have work emails end up in your marketing or spam inbox.
Source: Marketing Land
A clear subject line
Your email subject line needs to give the recipient an immediate idea of the email. For example, if you’re emailing someone about a specific meeting, you can title the email “logistics meeting @12”. If you’re messaging a colleague about an informal or impromptu gathering, then something like “Can we meet at 12 today in Room B for the screen share?” may be better.
Mostly, you want to get to the point immediately without allowing for any uncertainty.
Don’t turn it into an essay
When it comes to professional emails, keep it short and sweet. Think about what the objective is of any message. Does it need a long intro and conclusion? It’s best to get to the point, giving the reader all the essential information without any of the fluff. It also encourages a quicker response.
Novel reading is for books. Essay reading is for journals. Keep it concise!
Greet and sign off professionally
While it’s tempting to use a simple hello when contacting friends or even associates in your workplace, it’s best to keep it professional as you would if writing a letter with a pen and paper.
Think ‘hello’ as opposed to ‘hey.’ ‘Good morning/afternoon’ as opposed to ‘hi.’
The same goes for signing off. For a start, having a proper email signature as a component of your corporate identity makes emails come off as more legitimate. Think of your email signature as you would a business card.
Additionally, you want your email signature to be formatted in the same way as a business card. That means a unified font and alignment. Even with a signature, you should still conclude your email with a proper business goodbye.
Think ‘kind regards’ as opposed to ‘cheers’ or ‘best’ as opposed to ‘yours truly.’
Try and avoid ‘reply all’
While tempting, it’s best to avoid hitting the ‘reply all’ button when emailing in a professional setting. Etiquette aside, we’ve all been included in group email chains that, by the third email, have nothing to do with us.
So, be considerate and only use ‘reply all’ when the message is of use to all recipients.
Another way to avoid filling colleagues’ inboxes with unwanted emails is by making use of the BCC option. Meaning, if someone does ‘reply all’ to a message with CC and BCC recipients, only the CC’d parties will receive the message. By moving someone into the BCC field, you keep the conversation going without that person, sparing them ten emails as opposed to 3. Just ensure you’ve informed them, so you’re maintaining transparency.
Acknowledge what’s come before
Proper email etiquette is sending a response to whether or not the original sender requests one.
Not only should you acknowledge the previous email, but do it promptly. This kind of courtesy isn’t always extended, and your professionalism will set you apart.
Attach with caution
If you have to send a large attachment, you should first seek permission from the recipient. If you get the all-clear, ensure you use a zip file to compress the data. That way, you’ll take up less space in the recipient’s inbox.
There are dozens of cloud storage alternatives online for you to use as well. Not only does this require less space, but it also allows multiple files hosted in a single location, which aids organization. Rather than scrolling through your inbox looking for a file, everything is kept on one URL. Most cloud providers are also free up to a certain point, meaning they’re cost-effective.
Lastly, if you’re writing, “please see attached,” make sure there’s something attached!
People sometimes pay less attention to their grammar and spelling when composing emails. However, both are vitally important to proper email etiquette. After you’ve completed your email, read it out loud to catch any glaring errors, as these can overshadow what you’re trying to say. Make use of Grammarly, and run all of your outgoing emails through it before sending it.
No matter what form your communication takes while at work, you’re judged for how you come across.
Collaboration in the workplace has been underpinned by emails for the last three decades. That channel remains critical in spite of other communication methods such as teleconference services becoming commonplace.
Beyond giving you more time for a proper work life balance, you’re letting everyone you come into contact with know that you work professionally, and expect the same in return.
About the Author:
Sam O’Brien is the Senior Website Optimisation & User Experience Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a global UCaaS systems provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams.