Today, email is definitely the preferred means of communication in the workplace – though texting isn’t far behind it. And smartphones are increasingly the preferred means of emailing. While email and smartphones have made communication exponentially more convenient, it’s easy to make mistakes as we write and respond instantly, and often while on the go. So it’s important to take heed to a few rules of etiquette that will make your email communications much more effective.
1. Don’t use personal email accounts for work-related conversations. For one thing, personal email handles, if they don’t include your full name, can come off as unprofessional. For another, it can be confusing to others to receive your messages from two different email addresses. Finally, it’s better to conduct work with your work email, so that you can keep an organized record of projects, meetings, and other work activities.
2. Use exclamation marks sparingly, and ALL CAPS almost never. They simply come off louder than you want them to, and can read as slightly off-putting. Save exclamation marks for congratulating your team on a big success, or other occasions of that nature – and even then, use one, not several.
3. The same goes for hitting “reply all.” This one is tricky. You don’t want to exclude someone from the conversation who may need or want to be copied. But you also don’t want to clog up your colleagues’ email with a back and forth that doesn’t pertain to them. So just think twice before you reply to everyone, if a simple reply to the original sender of the message would suffice.
4. Make your subject line clear and concise. Recipients should know exactly what the email is about by reading the subject line. Also, if there’s a job code associated with the email, always include it in the subject line. This will make it easier for people to search for the email chain later.
5. Check for errors. Just because your smartphone emails may include an apology in advance, for any mistakes make “on the go,” that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make them error free. Always read over your email before you send it, and take the time to correct mistakes. After all, a lot can get lost or misunderstood over email, so give yours the best possible chance to be effective.
6. Always respond to your emails. Life gets busy, and it’s easy to get into the habit of not responding to emails once we’ve gotten the bare minimum we need. But if you give a response to let the person know you received the email, they’ll appreciate the consideration.
Being a great communicator is one of the most important skills you can possess in the workplace. So make sure you’re as polite and considerate over email as you would be in person.