Email Etiquette: Are there rules?

January 20, 2018 by  

Email is currently one of the most used forms of business communication. As many of you know, it is sometimes abused. The importance of email, therefore, should not be undermined, rather it should be utilized in an appropriate and respectful manner. So, it is certainly necessary to observe certain rules of business email etiquette.

Here are some basic rules to be observed when using this means of communication:

Rule No. 1:
Before sending an email, you may want to consider all the options available to you for the communication. With the variety offered by technology today, you have many other options such as text messaging, WhatsApp, Instagram, chatroom, even Skype messaging. Thus, it would behoove you to choose the one which is most appropriate for the subject you are dealing with as well as for the receiver with whom you are communicating.

Rule No. 2:
Sometimes you may be sending a sensitive message. Whenever conflicting statements are being made, it is necessary to be very careful. In those situations, you may find it useful to print the message before sending it or at least review and edit it very carefully before sending it off. You might even consider using a grammar tool such as Grammarly, which is free to download and can help you to check spelling, grammar, and punctuation of any document you create. You might also consider making yourself a hard copy so that you have a permanent record of the correspondence as you might need it if the conflict escalates into something more significant.

Rule No. 3:
Whenever you send an important email, it is truly crucial to read it more than once and check for spelling, content, logic, syntax, etc. You may need to improve the wording, clarity, or other aspects of the missive to be sure that it will be convincing, and clear to the reader. Your extra efforts of editing will pay off in the long run.

Rule No. 4:
Always maintain an up to date address book. It is not a good idea to delete names as you never know when you might need that address at some future time. Organizing your address book will make you more efficient. In other words, you may wish to separate your friends and colleagues from your business contacts and you may wish to arrange your business addresses according to certain groups by industry or relationship. This will make you more efficient as it will be easier to find the address you need more quickly.

Rule No. 5:
In business, in spite your best efforts, it can be difficult to maintain equanimity. It is not a good idea to send an email when you are not a good mood or upset by something as it is more difficult to keep that emotion out of the communication. Furthermore, when you are exhausted, you do not think clearly so this is also not a great time for sending messages. An email should be a spontaneous expression of your thoughts and ideas so you do not want other issues to influence the content your email.

Rule No. 6:
Do not try to make a business process simple, in other words, if a face to face meeting will better serve a particular situation, then make the appointment and have that meeting. Making it more convenient, just to suit you, could harm the relationship and the outcome of the exchange. Remember, an email message is never a good replacement for an important personal contact.

Rule No. 7:
Always remember the order for important business contacts. In many situations, a face to face meeting always comes first when trying to convince and influence a prospect. Sometimes that may not be possible, so your next option is to have a telephone conversation. Be sure to put a smile your face before you even say hello, as it will affect the sound of your voice and how your words are interpreted by the person on the other end of the receiver. Prepare the basics for your conversation before the call, you can even have some notes, as they cannot see what you are doing and that way you can be sure to cover all the key points you wish to impart. Lastly, you could leave a voicemail message, however, that is usually not the best of options as it can easily be ignored and it is hard to get much across in a short voicemail message but at least it is personal. When the previous three are not possible you can then use email and sure remember to follow the first 6 rules of etiquette so that your message will be well received and you will be more likely to receive a reply.

Again, technology can be a great advantage and convenience when used well, however, do remember that direct, face to face meetings are usually the best way to establish and maintain important longterm relationships in business or actually in any aspect of your life.