Email etiquette - Do you know it?

Friday, May 1st 2009

E-mails, one of the many ways we now communicate to one another. They are sent worldwide to everyone we know all just with the simple click of a button. We send letters, notes, contracts, attachments, updates, jokes, and chain mails. It’s become more popular than the telephone in many ways. With tonality being taken out of the equation and being left with merely the words we type; it’s crucial to ensure you come across with warmth, etiquette and class. Do you know how you are perceived in your e-mails?

Like many business professionals, I receive an unlimited amount of e-mails every day. Time is of the essence so I can reply to everyone and give them the information they are looking for...sound familiar for the rest of you out there? But no one will ever be able to accuse me of being short or rude on my e-mails. Why? Because I personalize them. This is a crucial factor that so many people miss. There are so many electronic exchanges we all make with individuals we’ve never met before. I’m certainly no exception. However, I’m always appalled by individuals that are not only short, but curt in their e-mails. Not only this, but they have no sign off in their e-mail, and simply place their name. It’s one thing to be to the point; but it’s another to be rude. With face to face interaction missing from e-mails, it’s difficult to determine someone’s intent and tone in an e-mail. Because of this, simple things like signature’s and sign offs are important. There are many different ones you can use, "Warmest wishes", "Best", "Warmly", "Cheers", "All the best", "Sincerely", "Best regards", and the list goes on endlessly. Each sign off will say something different about you, so pick wisely. This goes hand in hand with your writing style. Do not use capital letters in an email message; it comes across as shouting and aggressive.

When sending e-mails, it’s also important to address the person you’re mailing, rather than just beginning your reply or message. Remember, people want the personal touch. This includes getting the individuals name right. There are countless times I’ve sent e-mails to people where their reply begins with "Christine" (or something similar) rather than my actually name, Christie. Pay attention to details.

Ensure that you have the subject box filled so the sender knows in what the mails regarding. This will help busy professionals prioritize what is sent to them. With that in mind, also be respectful of time; do not send email chain letters. They can automatically put the recipients on “junk email” lists. Something that often goes along with chain emails are people that use “cute backgrounds” for their e-mails. Plain and simple, it’s unprofessional; avoid it at all costs (unless you want to send it out in personal mails).

Who said that e-mails between professionals had to be stuffy? Don’t be afraid to show your warmth, personality and passion for what you do and for the person you’re communicating with. As Carl Beuchner once said, "They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel."

Warmest wishes,

Christie Ressel, International Image Consultant
Personal Power Image Consulting ™©


*Toronto based image consulting