Business Email Etiquette
Business Email Etiquette has become a big issue in the last couple of years. People ignore emails, don’t reply, don’t spell correctly, copy everybody in the company from the CEO to the receptionist.
Studies show how business relationships, within the company and with other companies, are in danger thanks to the lack of email etiquette.
In the UK, for instance, 11% of Britons admitted they deny the receipt of emails. This is a high percentage, if we compare them with the Spaniards (4%), the French and Italians (3%), and the Germans (1%).
Italians reply 60% of the time vs. 13% in the UK.
This survey of 750 office workers in Spain, UK, France, Germany and Italy, appointed by PalmOne, shows that 81% admit having negative feelings towards people who have bad spelling or talk about other topics not related to the subject. Usually these negative feelings lead to distrust in the sender, and therefore, in the business relationship with him.
This survey also shows that the best responses were the formal ones.
Let’s take a look at some business email etiquette to keep in mind:
1) Be brief and to the point. People’s time is valuable. Don’t waste it writing long emails where few lines can make your point.
2) Answer all questions. If you leave one or more questions unanswered, this will cause frustration in the sender, prompting him to send you another email with the questions you didn’t answer. This unnecessary procedure wastes time, the sender’s and yours. Also, while you answer his questions, anticipate his next questions answering them in your reply. This will give the sender a caring and professional image of you.
3) Watch your punctuation, grammar, and spelling. Having this kind of errors in your messages gives the reader the impression of an unprofessional sender, rising doubts about your performance as a business person. You can lose contracts, clients, and promotions within your company due to your lack of proper writing.
4) Answer your emails quickly. People expect you to answer your emails fast, not next week. Fast response indicates you are an active business person, always in charge, and highly responsible in what you do. Procrastination in answering emails indicates lack of professionalism.
5) Be careful with attachments. If the attached document is very large, break it in several parts or compress it. Avoid causing any system problems in your recipient’s computer.
6) Have a clean layout. Reading from a computer screen is more difficult than reading from paper. Make it easier to your recipient’s eyes. Write short paragraphs, 4 to 5 lines, and 2 to 3 sentences per paragraph. Each new idea goes in a new paragraph. Use bullets to list things or ideas.
7) Use the “red flag” or “high priority” feature only when it is high priority. If you use it all the time, your readers won’t pay attention to your urgency when you really need them to do so. Same goes for the words “urgent” or “important” within the body of the email.
8) Avoid writing in CAPITALS. It is shouting and it is rude.
9) Always reply to your messages instead of opening a new mail for your response. When you reply you keep the conversation going and all the people involved will know exactly how it started, what information was shared, so they can add valuable inputs to the subject.
10) Use disclaimers in your outbound messages. This is an efficient way the company protects itself from liabilities and lawsuits.
11) Always, always read your email before you send it. You can find typos, grammar errors, or ideas not expressed the way you intended. This extra time you take reading your message certainly pays off in a big way.
12) Only use “Reply to All” when each and every person on the list needs to see your response.
13) Emoticons and abbreviations used in business email are not understood or well received by everybody. Be careful when you use them. You might look unprofessional in the eyes of some readers.
14) Send messages in plain text only. This way you can be sure all your recipients will read your message with no problems.
15) Avoid forwarding chain letters. In a business environment, chain letters are a no-no. Take good care of your professional image.
16) Do not annoy your recipients requesting a read receipt or recalling a message. If you make a mistake, say so. A recalled message makes the mistake even bigger than if you just call the recipient or send a new email with the correction.
17) Be careful with what you write in your email messages. Everything you write is, in fact, in writing! If you share confidential information by email, it can be printed or forwarded to the wrong people. If you send a joke with any kind of discriminating comments, it can be used against you at anytime. Be responsible with what you write for your own good.
18) Write a Subject line with key words about the message. Avoid writing long Subject lines or vague sentences. Using the right words in your Subject line will prompt the reader to open your message fast.
19) Do not participate in emails, either sending them or forwarding them, that include offensive or derogatory remarks of any kind. This action can result in lawsuits against your company with very high penalties.
20) Ignore spam. If you reply to them, you are confirming your address is a valid one.
Business email etiquette speaks volumes about the sender and the company where the message was originated.
Keep your professional image at all times following these simple business email etiquette rules. In some cases, email is the first introduction to a business partner, and this only heightens the following of business email etiquette. They are not hard and all the benefits will be yours.
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