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Corporate Email Etiquette

1. Reply Promptly

  • Even if you don’t know the answer to a question posed in the email, it is courteous to send a simple response to say that you received their email and will respond shortly; give a specific time frame if possible
  • This does two things:
    • First, it lets the sender know that they are important to you and that you are not ignoring them by not responding until days later
    • Second, it gives you extra time to find any information being requested
  • After you receive an email, don’t tuck it away. The faster you respond, the better. The receiver will appreciate the fast response and you will be perceived as more dependable

2. Introduce Yourself

  • If you have never met, it’s best to introduce yourself right away
  • The best practice is for the sender to introduce themselves by first and last name with some background information in the first few lines

3. Subject Line is Relevant and Descriptive

  • This seems absolutely basic, but including a relevant email subject line is critical
  • Avoid vague subject lines; keep subject lines descriptive and short

4. Keep the Message Clear, Concise, and to the Point

  • Most people prefer brief emails rather than long, wordy messages
  • If possible, state your point in a couple of sentences
  • For a longer message, start with an introductory paragraph letting people know the basics. If you have more than one topic, split your message into more than one mailing, with one topic per email
  • You want your point to come across easily and take as little time to read as possible
  • Use numbered lists or visual representations of data to make the information discernible and easy to understand

5. Avoid the Urge to Hit “Reply All”

  • With the number of emails we receive each day, being able to decipher quickly which emails are pressing is key
  • Be judicious when hitting “Reply All”. In business, it is common practice to copy all and reply all on every email thus cluttering up everyone’s inbox. Be selective about what you send and say to prevent wasting time or slowing productivity

6. Proofread: Use Proper Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation, and Tone

  • Review the email before you send it in the first place
  • If you read your email at least twice before you send it, you will naturally send better emails. Those who just fire off emails without reviewing them first usually make mistakes and look bad in the process
  • For more sensitive/important emails, it may be wise to send to a colleague to proof or verify your tone and message is appropriate

7. Make your Email Action-Oriented and Next Steps Clear

  • If you aren’t pushing someone into action through your email, then what’s the point of even writing one?
  • Your goal should be to end your email with an “action item” so that the receiver knows exactly what to do after reading it

8. Give the Recipient Multiple Options when Setting Up a Meeting

  • This will lessen the back and forth. By offering concrete time windows, you can narrow down a time in 1-2 emails instead of 5-6

9. Use Priority Flags with Discretion

  • If you have a high priority flag, only use it when necessary
  • Using it too much will eventually have the opposite effect you want and send your emails to the bottom of the priority list for the recipients

10. Don’t End your Email Abruptly

  • Be sure to say Thank you
  • Too many support emails end abruptly; by asking a question like ‘Does that help?’, you let the receiver know you care to make sure their issue is absolutely resolved or they get a chance to keep conversing over email until it is

11. Always Sign your Emails with your Contact Information

  • Don’t forget to sign your emails. The recipients may get annoyed if they have to scroll up to figure out who sent them the message
  • If you expect a response by phone, be sure to include the number, even if you know the person has it on file. The purpose of email is to save time, and having to stop what he or she is doing will slow things down
  • Always have an updated signature line and ensure your signature line is visible for new and reply mail
  • Use a signature with contact details at all times

12. Use an “Out of Office” Reply when Necessary

  • When you’re on vacation or in training, always make sure you have an away message so that people know who to contact in your absence
  • This not only looks professional, but can help you defer some requests to others who can support you and solve problems on your behalf