The medium for communication has been a daily part of our world since the 1990s, but we are still not on the same page (pun intended) about how to go about it. What IS the accepted etiquette? What SHOULD BE the accepted etiquette.
Before you draft the email:
- Subject line—choose wisely! It should be clear and descriptive. Cutesy doesn’t work here… that could land you in the trash before you were even opened.
- Unless you are in regular communication, don’t assume that the recipient knows who you are. Offer a brief one liner intro.
- Make sure attachments can be accessed by the users you are sending them to and double check to make sure you’ve attached the correct documents. (And that you’ve actually attached them!)
- Include an email signature with all of your contact information. Use the same signature on all devices. You don’t need to announce to the world that you are working off your phone or tablet.
Timing is everything:
- Don’t be too slow to respond— within 24 business hour turnaround is ideal.
- Don’t send an angry email—it never hurts to sleep on it before clicking “send.”
Hit the right tone:
- Choose tone based on the client—know your audience. Some emails may require more formal language while others might appreciate a lighter informal format. As a rule of thumb, mirror the recipient’s language and tone.
- Some audiences are cool with emojis/informal language/even exclamation points, but don’t go overboard 🏄♀️🤣!!!!! Sean Kronengold, Collaboration Specialist at harmon.ie, suggests waiting to include emojis.
- Sarcasm and humor can go awfully wrong in an email. You may read it and think that you are hilarious, while the recipient can read it and never want to read another email from you again. Save the sarcasm for your standup routine. Read your email aloud to make sure you hit the right tone and that what you wrote can’t be misinterpreted. Clarity is key.
- Don’t use all caps. Ever. UNLESS YOU WOULD BE YELLING IF THIS CONVERSATION WERE HAPPENING ON THE PHONE OR IN PERSON!
Body of your email:
- Keep it tight and concise or it will be labeled TLDR.
- Don’t forward an email with no explanation or guidance. Don’t be that person.
- Consider jumping the gun. Start your email with your call to action or the reason you are sending the email. Pull them in early on.
- Don’t send large attachments that will take over any remaining memory left in someone’s inbox. Sending a large file? Store it on the cloud and send a link.
Don’t send the email of shame:
- Don’t forget to proofread! This isn’t a text message to a friend. It’s a legit professional exchange. Don’t use acronyms (lol). “Don’t rely on spellcheck or grammarly alone. Spellcheck can change a mistyped “finance” into “fiance.”
- An email is forever. They can be forwarded, screenshotted and help or hurt you for the long haul. Whatever you type about a company/policy/colleague/client can always make it back to them—heed this warning!
Who should you include?
- CC and BCC: Your blood pressure may have escalated just seeing those letters. Carbon copy. Blind carbon copy. When should these dangerous tools be employed?
- ASK people if they want to be looped in via cc or bcc before adding them into another email chain that will undoubtedly clog up their inbox.
- Only CC with purpose if those cc’d need to be included. For example, if those cc’d being visibly included helps the purpose of the email, then go for it. Don’t cc willy nilly.
- BCC: USE SPARINGLY! Or just don’t. Maybe you’ve been asked to bcc by your supervisor. Then it is okay. Your manager may want to see when an email was sent or to be kept in the loop if a difficult situation has arisen. But. Be warned. You are navigating dangerous territory my friend.
- Double check to make sure that names of recipients are spelled correctly and that you included the right crew for the goal(s) of your email.
- Don’t reply all but DO reply to all emails.
- Saved the best for last! Don’t enter recipients email addresses until the email is ready to go. This is a GREAT way to avoid clicking send too early and having sender’s remorse. If the email is really important, send it to yourself first and read it one more time. This will enable you to click send with confidence!
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Have more tips? Let us know! Want to be able to collaborate with colleagues without worrying about looping in your client to your email thread? Start your beta user account today!