In the modern world we spend significant time communicating electronically sometimes we text, Snapchat, BBM, email, etc. Connecting with colleagues, friends, and family has become much more expedient through these mediums. When it comes to the workplace, the rules for communicating are different. The cute emoticons and acronyms that work so well in our social life are not going to fly in the office. So, read on to become email etiquette savvy.


Don't use CAPITAL letters. Capital letters are the text version of yelling; they are offensive and create defensiveness. If you are intending to reprimand or discipline a subordinate, have this conversation in person. If you are simply attempting to get your message across use other techniques like bolding important dates or asking for an acknowledgement or response to your message. This will keep the tone respectful and productive.


Do use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. Make sure you are capitalizing and punctuating appropriately. Not only does it show that you are intelligent, it shows you care. Email lacks tone and inflection, and when punctuation is missing, meaning becomes open to interpretation. Save yourself the hassle of looking incompetent and having to explain yourself by doing it right the first time. On that note, always spell the recipient's name correctly. If necessary, go out of your way to determine the correct spelling. In most cases you have the correct spelling in a previous email signature block and sometimes in the email address itself. For those of us whose names have unique spelling, it shows a level of respect and caring that is often overlooked in this hectic world.


Don't assume any level of privacy. The reality is that emails are the property of your organization. Don't send anything you wish to remain confidential, including pictures. Most organizations have policies that allow them to randomly search employee emails, sometimes without warning. Before sending anything private, ask yourself if you would be comfortable with others reading the content. If not, don't send it.


Do keep emails concise and brief. What happens when you receive a long drawn out email? We scan it, often missing important details. Many of us receive hundreds of emails in a day and we automatically filter those we perceive to be important. A short and concise email is much more likely to get the attention it requires. Using bullet points or lists will assist in conveying your message much better than a novel.


Don't hit 'reply all' without looking at the addressee list. Everyone has made the mistake of pushing 'reply all' on an email that should never have left your inbox in the first place. Whether the email has an angry tone or just isn't relevant to all, don't fall victim to this mistake. Once an email has been sent it cannot be retracted. It's out there and you will have to deal with the consequences. We are inundated with messages daily and receiving irrelevant or nasty emails may tick off your colleagues.


Don't use slang or jargon. Sure, ttyl and brb are cute and efficient ways of communicating with your friends and family, but they are not appropriate for professional use. Always spell out your message to prevent confusion as well as being perceived as immature or unprofessional. Keep this rule in mind when using emoticons. Sometimes a smile can be useful in creating tone, but don't go overboard with complicated emoticons, use them sparingly.


Do use the subject field in your messages. There is nothing quite like scouring your inbox for the message your colleague sent you last week... with no subject line. The subject line tells the recipient what to expect in the email and allows for easier retrieval in the future. Make sure your subject line is reflective of the content; it's going to be difficult to find an email about project deadlines when the subject line is 'To all my peeps...'


Of course, there are many things to consider when composing an email, keep these tips in mind and you'll be on the right track.

 

- Meaghan