Email P’s & Q’s
Strong communication is key in any business; today, one of the most used forms of communication is email, which now exceeds telephone use as the dominant form of business communication. Not unlike the art of letter writing, electronic communication comes with its own rules of decorum. Following the simple guidelines listed here, in your business, as well as your personal life, will ensure you are perceived as professional, considerate, and intelligent.
When composing your email, picture yourself speaking face to face or on the phone with the recipient, imparting a human element to your communication. Please and thank you go a long way, so minding your P’s & Q’s is just as important when utilizing the written word.
Always start your email with a courteous greeting and be sure you spell the recipient’s name correctly. Just as important is the use of appropriate punctuation and typing in complete sentences. Email is not to be confused with texting; one, two, or three letter words in place of spelling out the entire word are not acceptable. Your email message reflects not only you, but your business. Utilizing appropriate punctuation will also ensure your message is clear to the reader. For example: A woman, without her man, is nothing. A woman: without her, man is nothing.
Common courtesy dictates you respond to emails from others in a timely manner. If you cannot respond to an email promptly, at the very least, email back confirming your receipt and when the sender can expect your response, then follow up on time.
I highly recommended you never send an email you have not put through the spell check process. Remember, your goal is to look intelligent! Keep emails brief and to the point, and ensure all relevant details necessary to understand your point of view are included. This will eliminate the possibility of a round robin string of emails for clarification and will save everyone time.
To provide easy sifting through a barrage of emails for the recipient, and to keep your email out of the dreaded spam folder, be sure to utilize the ‘Subject’ field accurately, stating the content of your email or a requested action, i.e. “FOR APPROVAL” or “SCHEDULING REQUEST”. This will also ensure your email is opened and not considered as an email from a hacked account. Feel free to modify the Subject field if necessary to more accurately reflect a conversation’s direction if it changes during the succession of the conversation.
In formatting your email, remember that first letter capitalization is just as important as it is in formal letter writing. An email sent in all lower case letters gives the perception of a lack of education or laziness, and ALL CAPITAL LETTERS IS PERCEIVED AS SHOUTING. Many people are reading their email from a small smart phone screen; therefore, using short paragraphs, blank lines between each paragraph, and breaking out multiple points or questions as numbered items in all email correspondence will be helpful to the reader.
BCC; everyone’s BFF! It seems nothing is private these days, yet privacy is something everyone appreciates you take seriously. When addressing your email to several individuals at the same time, utilizing the BCC feature to protect their email address from being published to those they do not know is vastly appreciated. This is a serious privacy issue. If necessary, place your own email address in the ‘To’ field. When forwarding an email, always edit out all the “>>>>forwarding”, other email addresses, and commentary from all the other forwarders before you. It’s also helpful to add a personal comment to the person or people you are forwarding to at the top of your email.
Always end your emails with a proper ending; “Thank you”, “Best regards”, “See you on the golf course” – something! Formality reflects respect. You would not hang up the phone without saying good-bye, right?
Another courtesy to the sender is to add your contact information under your signature: business address, web site, and phone number. This will make it easier for the reader to explore your business or contact you via telephone, if necessary, without taking the time to search for you.
As in all areas of life, the Golden Rule applies to email communications as well; email unto others as you would have them email unto you!