Published 17 January 2018 Category: Compass Tips

Email Etiquette

Responding to emails is a necessity in the business world, but taking the time to type out a thoughtful, polite reply to each one can eat up a good chunk of your day. Google has added a Smart Reply feature to Inbox by Gmail that allows emailers to choose quick, auto-generated responses suggested for them based on the email text.

While there is a time and a place for this, quick, casual responses to professional emails could do more harm than good. Automated responses can reduce connections between senders and receivers, and creating more generic rather than customised emails may lead to miscommunication.

Here’s some advice plus some major dos and don'ts, and when to use the CC and BCC options.

The Dos

Do: Use proper salutation
Opening an email with "hi" or "hey" might be OK for colleagues you're friendly with, but for new contacts, begin your email with a proper, respectful salutation, such as "good morning," "good afternoon," "good evening" or "hello”. “Good day” or “greetings” are other phrases used frequently in the international arena.

Do: Proofread
Before you hit send, make sure to carefully proofread and edit your email. You should look for misspellings, grammar and punctuation errors. Careless email mistakes will only make you look bad to your recipients.

Do: Stay concise
It's always best to keep your emails short and sweet. Emails are not meant to be as brief as text messages, Smith said, but they are meant to be a form of quick communication. If your email is too wordy, try editing it down to make it more concise.

Recipients will only read the first line or two before deciding whether to keep or delete [an email], so ensure that you are saying what you need to say sufficiently.

Do: Keep Calm
Never send any email while you are angry or emotional. Instead, try to calm down and then speak to the person you need to address face to face or over the phone if an in-person meeting is not possible. Doing so could help you avoid an unnecessary altercation.

The Don'ts

Don't: Use buzzwords
Acronyms and buzzwords can confuse recipients and make you look unprofessional. Stick to writing out full words and use layman's terms to get your point across, although exceptions can be made depending on whom you're emailing. For example, acronyms may be acceptable in the occasional internal email, but any email you send – especially to clients – should be written in language that's easy to understand.

Don't: Put anyone down
Emails can be shared quickly and easily, and there are consequences to disparaging others in lasting, digital communications. Avoid embarrassing yourself – or worse, losing your job – by making sure you don't badmouth any colleagues or business partners.

Don't: Punctuate poorly
When writing a professional email, keep the exclamation marks to a minimum. One exclamation mark is too many. Keep your punctuation professional, and unless you're friendly with the intended recipient, you should avoid using emoticons in emails, too.

Don't: Forget the conversation closer
End your email with a closing such as "best," "best regards," "sincerely," "thank you," or another appropriate phrase. By letting the recipient know that a response isn't needed, the email cycle doesn't continue on in perpetuity.

Other closer options include "no reply necessary," "thank you again," "see you at the meeting" and "please let me know if I may be of further assistance."

How to CC and BCC properly
The carbon copy (CC) and blind carbon copy (BCC) tools are tricky. Sometimes they're useful, but if used improperly, they can be problematic. When using the CC feature, keep in mind that less is more. You also need to think about what it is that you're sending and how important it is to others. Truly consider who needs to be in the loop on this communication. Do they need this information, or is there something they can add to the conversation?"

The BCC feature allows you to add someone to an email conversation without others knowing, so it can be a little harder to determine when or if it's right to use it. But there are times when BCC-ing others is a good idea.

  • If you're planning something but not everyone in the conversation knows one another yet, using BCC keeps everyone's emails private until they're ready to share them with the group.

  • If you have been asked to complete a task, when you include the requester via BCC, it lets that person know that the task is in progress.

  • If you are corresponding with a client who is unsatisfied, BCC-ing your boss will ensure that he or she won't be caught by surprise, should the client call.

  • It's best to leave those who don't fall into the "need to know" category off an email and reduce the clutter in their inbox. And if you're not sure, the best approach to take is to ask the person you want to CC or BCC if they'd like to be included.

Like it or not, emails are a part of business. But as you get more and more inundated, you want to do everything you can to ensure that your emails get read. One way you can do this is to adopt some best practices for professional email etiquette. From a professional email greeting to professional email format, it can all make a big difference.