Email Etiquette – 5 Simple Tips to Improve your Email Communication

By: Deborah Mandel

With today’s communication being largely technology based, there are certain protocols that one must follow. Just like with phone calls and in-person communication, when emailing in a work capacity, we want to make sure that we come across as courteous, knowledgeable, and professional. Email being what it is, sometimes it’s easy for you to be misunderstood or for people to take a different meaning from what you are trying to say.

Here are the mistakes that I most often see:

1) Subject Line – Include a subject line that is concise and gives the recipient a general idea of what the email to follow will be about. If the subject email is blank or something generic like ‘Hello’, readers may assume it is spam and not give it the proper attention. In addition to that, if you find yourself searching through old emails as I often so, it is so much easier to find something if it’s titled appropriately.

2) Spelling/Grammar – These could both be separate bullets and I could give you paragraphs with examples, but they are listed for the same reason so I decided to combine them. Mistakes with either of these can easily make you sound less than professional, and if this is your first impression, you might be making a lousy one. Use spellcheck if your email service offers it, if not, look it up on the internet. Whether it’s a word that you think looks funny, or a “there vs. their’ situation, you can find almost anything on the internet nowadays.

Typing Email

3) Punctuation – With punctuation, different punctuation can make the email take on a different tone, so be sure you take that into consideration. Use that exclamation point (!) too much and people are going to think you were a cheerleader in a past life!!! Like the exclamation point, the ellipsis (…) is at risk of overuse. An ellipsis can indicate hesitation, and thereby makes the sender seem indecisive… or am I…

4) Spell Names Correctly – This cannot be emphasized enough! If you email someone and do not spell their name right, it tells people that you don’t pay attention to details and potentially makes them start wondering to what else you aren’t paying attention. It also says “I don’t care” or “I don’t have the time” to do quality control. If you aren’t sure, go through your previous emails, or check out their company website, to make certain you are getting that spelling right. Unless you are emailing someone for the first time and have never seen their name spelled out before, this is the worst mistake you can make.

5) Reply All – This evil little button in the top left corner of your screen was created to help groups of people have running conversations that are related to all parties. Nowadays, social media has made people think that they need to share everything. There are times when ‘Reply All’ should be used, but most situations don’t require it. If your response will add something valuable to the conversation or effect a decision that people make, then by all means, reply away. However, if your response has no effect on other people then hold off. You can always reply to the individual that sent it, I just ask that you think before you ‘Reply All’.

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Comment below with your thoughts or any other common mistakes people make, as well as suggestions for alternatives and corrections.

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