Entries in e-mail (1)

Wednesday
Feb132013

Guidelines: Email Etiquette

email-iconWhether you are sending an email to a friend, colleague, or customer, take an extra moment to ensure the email is confidential, professional, and relevant.

Keep these tips in mind when sending out an email.

Do not leave the subject line blank

For productivity enthusiasts, being able to quickly identify and reference a message or request is the key to prioritizing their action lists.

Therefore, subject lines are the easiest way to grab someone's attention, and allow them to either reply right away to the message or place it on an action list. Otherwise, your message may become unnoticed, unread, or worse deleted.

Moreover, in some professional settings, properly labeling an email demonstrates a good measure of due diligence. The type of subject line you use, or if you use them at all, can speak volumes about your attention to detail or the respect you give to other people's time.

Marking an email as urgent

There is an inherent risk when you label any message as urgent.

Today, most people are suffering from work overload and struggle to answer all the messages in their inbox without people making unnecessary demands on their time and attention. In marking your message urgent, you force someone to give special attention to your request and deviate from his or her action plan or schedule.

Be sure you need to mark something as urgent before you send it off. Ask yourself whether your message really deserves special attention, and whether this action with give you the results you want.

Reasons to send urgent requests:

  • You have a good working relationship with the recipient and you have established an understanding with the person about these types of messages.
  • You have sent multiple messages that have gone unanswered, and a hard deadline leaves you with little choice but to send an urgent message.
  • As a courtesy, if you are contacting someone's manager, supervisor, or the company's upper management about a client or account they are working on.
  • You work in an industry or office that demands a quick turnaround time and it is a common procedure to mark messages as high priority.

Nevertheless, even if you work in an environment where marking messages as urgent is a common occurrence, overusing urgent requests will ultimately result in the word urgent losing its impact to rush something along.

Ultimately, give people the same consideration that you would expect.

Consider a few things before you send out an important message:

  • If I were the recipient, will I consider this message urgent?
  • How is the recipient going to react to me marking this message as urgent?
  • Can I write a subject line that will get me a quick response without annoying the recipient?

A person's to do list is an important and delicate document. Showing disregard or disrespect to someone's time can increase a person's stress level and inhibit their productivity. Both of these circumstances can have a direct impact on your work and sustain a good relationship with coworkers.

Always keep privacy and confidentiality in mind when you send out a message

Because of the speed, convenience, and overuse of emails and instant messaging, people have become slack about properly reviewing a message before sending it out.

A lack of due diligence is dangerous when an email is sent to one recipient; but, it can be catastrophic when it is blasted out to multiple people.

Things to consider before you send out an email:

  • Before forwarding an email, review the message and consider if any of the content will be misunderstood, if seen out of context.
  • Scan a message for any proprietary information that can harm your company competitive standings.
  • Because a recipient may not want their contact information shared with a third party, decide whether you need to place all additional recipients in the BBC.
  • Protect your client list. Most times, the development of these lists is an expensive and or labour intensive effort. For some companies, releasing this type of information can sink their business.
  • Do not rush a response. If you are in the middle of another activity or your attention is elsewhere, you need to pause and take a moment to decide if a response can wait until you have a quiet moment to focus.
  • Place a disclosure notice in the email or subject line if you believe the information contained in the email is confidential and ask that the recipient treat the information as so.
  • Before sending off an email to a third party, ask the sender if they are comfortable with you taking this action.
  • Leaked emails can lead to the tarnishing of reputations, legal proceedings, and terminations. Remember; never write anything in an email that you would not be willing to say in person, over the phone, or in a paper letter.

Conclusion

In any company, office, or working relationships, there is always a chance peoples standards of professionalism might become lax.

Even if you are busy or your attention is split between multiple tasks, take a moment to properly review, format and edit any message before sending it out.