Whenever you send an email, be careful with what you say, even more careful that if you had written a note by hand. Any thought, sentiment, feeling, idea, or whatever else you sent in confidence can be all too easily forwarded to dozens, or even hundreds, of people. Before hitting the send button, reread your email and make necessary edits. Be sure that the recipient will know precisely what you are saying, and the tone with which you are saying it.
Since email lacks the non-verbal subtleties of a face to face conversation, emails must be carefully constructed to convey the proper emotion. Sarcasm, for example, is often lost in emails.
While emotion does not convey well in an email, drunkenness, anger, and irrationalityconvey very well, and not in a good way. Before sitting down to write an email, you must be calm, articulate, and absolutely sober. Never type an email while in any other state. You angry drunken ranting lunacy will be forwarded to everybody. Your follow up apology email the next day will not be. If you are writing an angry email, let it sit in your draft box for a day, then re-evaluate it. This will give you a chance to re-read, re-think, re-write, or just simply delete it as necessary.
While some people respond to all emails within mere seconds of receiving them, this is not necessary. You do not need to be available at a moments notice in most of life’s occupations and situations. Do not answer emails in the middle of conversations, private dinners, movies, important meetings, or anywhere else where you know that your attention is requested and required at the task at hand. No email is ever important enough to be received or replied to while in a moving vehicle, especially if you are the driver. Likewise, do not expect instantaneous responses from people via email.
The subject line should be as informative as it is brief. A simple phrase or short sentence is all that is required. The subject line is akin to a thesis statement, only shorter.
Personal emails should always begin with “Dear Crystal,” rather than “Hi Crystal,” or simply “Crystal,” or “Hey.” Business emails may be less formal, but the recipients should still be addressed by name. All emails should contain some form of greeting, instead of diving right into the meat of the text.
Every email you send should end with a closing, so there is no doubt that the bottom of the email has been reached. The greeting can be as formal as a “Sincerely, Christian” or as informal as an XOXOXO exchanged between lovers, but there should be a closure. In business settings, a simple “Thank You” will suffice in most situations.
Using multiple exclamation points or all capitol letters are the internet age equivalent of screaming at the top of your lungs. You should not, under any circumstances, scream at another human being, even via email.
Use the “Reply To All” button sparingly, if at all. Invariably, whenever the company sends out a mass email reminding everybody to get their TPS Reports in on time, one idiot will reply to all 5000 employees that he in fact got his done on Tuesday. The only time to use reply all is if you are responding with vital information that everybody on the list needs to know. Do not carry on a conversation via email using the “reply all” button.
Proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling should beused at all times. Do not rely on your spell checker. There are too many words that will auto correct incorrectly. Do not use text message abbreviations. Do not rely on a thesaurus. The word you have to look up is the wrong word. If you can only define a word by looking it up in a dictionary, you may not use that word in your communication until you have added it to your vocabulary. If you work in an acronym heavy field like the military or information technology, define your acronyms. Also, no emoticons.Email Shield
Never say something in an email that you are unwilling or unable to say in person. Never fire somebody, or break up with somebody with an email. Some conversations were meant to be held in person, and emotionally charged conversations do not translate well into emails. A gentleman does not hide behind a computer screen.These rules should serve as a guideline for effective email communication, but they are by no means a comprehensive list. If you want something even simpler, remember this; Jesus himself commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. This applies to email as well. Email others as you would have them email you. Good email etiquette really is that simple.