Advancements in technology have made it possible to communicate with people across geographies. It started with the postal service and then the telephone; however, these days the Internet has become the preferred choice for sending messages. Email is a mode of sending messages through a network of computers. This could be within an organization or a private community, or even across the web. Since it reaches the recipient instantly, it enables quick communication and sharing of information. Be it communication for business, personal or any other reason, it has become extremely popular.
Communicating through email requires one to follow a certain code of conduct, which can be termed as 'email etiquette'. Let's look at certain guidelines which can help you to create a positive impact on the reader.
The subject line should clearly mention the purpose of the email and the action required from the recipient. Remember that the other person may not even read through your message if the purpose is not clearly outlined at the start. One way is to look at it from the reader's perspective. Think, if you were the receiver, would you be able to figure out the objective by reading the subject line.
Again, when you write professional emails, you need to address the person properly, by his last name. This is the beginning of the message, and therefore, it should be addressed to the right person and in a correct and polite manner, so that it creates a connect with the reader. Salutations like Mr., Ms, Dr. (if relevant) are mostly used. If you know the person well, then 'Dear' is also accepted.
Content - KISS!
This actually means - keep it short and sweet! Whether you are advertising a product, or sending a report, see that the content is concise and precise. Punctuations should be used at the right places, so that the exact meaning is conveyed. Think as if the person is busier than you are, and accordingly try to convey your message in short and simple sentences. However, in the pursuit of making it short, ensure that you do not miss out on any information.
In a business or a corporate setting, you should never use uppercase in the content. This sounds aggressive, and therefore, it should be strictly avoided! Only capitalize the first letter of the sentence and the rest should be in lowercase. However, the use of capital letters are accepted when the communication is pertaining to an appreciation or emphasizing on some achievement, and is marked to people within the department.
Review the Content
Once you have finished writing the email, it is advisable to proofread it and correct any spelling and grammatical mistakes. Also check for punctuation used wherever necessary. And don't forget to end with a professional goodwill!
Errors in the header information are common mistakes people make while sending an email. Remember to check the address for correctness, as it can result in a delivery failure or reach an unintended person. Do not copy people who are not required to receive the information, as it can be considered as spamming. As far as possible, avoid the 'bcc' option as it is considered rude and unethical.
Responding to an Email
You should make it a point to acknowledge an email, even if you are not ready with the response or the action requested from it. A short note stating that you are working on it, would go a long way in maintaining cordial relations and also buy you time to frame an appropriate reply. Try to respond within an acceptable duration of time and if there was a delay, then apologize for it and specify the reason. Always start by thanking the sender before responding to the information or query, and end by asking him to reach out to you if he needs any other information.
Email etiquette is an important aspect of professional behavior, and organizations need to realize its importance and enforce it through awareness and training programs for their employees.