Proper E-mail Etiquette--Part I

Sep 23


Dean Phillips

Dean Phillips

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This article explains how to send ... e-mail replies. It also ... why proper e-mail ... is ... and lists e-mail ... rules:1. Always, Always, Always use a ...


This article explains how to send effective e-mail replies.
It also discusses why proper e-mail etiquette is necessary,Proper E-mail Etiquette--Part I Articles
and lists e-mail etiquette rules:

1. Always, Always, Always use a greeting.

Whatever happened to good old fashion courtesy and manners?
For whatever reason, people just aren't as nice or
considerate nowadays as they used to be.

For instance, I'm always amazed how many e-mails I receive
that don't contain a single "hi," "hello," "good morning"--
nothing! I just don't understand why people treat e-mail so
casually, because e-mail is a form of communication and is
really no different than answering your telephone and
saying "hello." It's just the courteous thing to do.

You have to realize, people who don't know you form opinions
and impressions about you, based on your e-mail
communications. And if you come across as cold, rude,
indifferent or unfriendly, it's a direct reflection on you
and your company and it will negatively impact your
business. Let's face it, we all like to do business with
people we like.

Now if you're corresponding back and forth with someone
several times a day, it's certainly not necessary to greet
them in every single e-mail. However, your initial e-mail
should always contain a greeting of some sort.

2. Be concise and to the point.

Don't make an e-mail longer than it needs to be. Remember
that reading an e-mail is harder than reading printed
communications and a long e-mail can be very trying to read.

3. Answer all questions, and pre-empt further questions.

An e-mail reply must answer all questions, and pre- empt
further questions - If you do not answer all the questions
in the original e-mail, you will receive further e-mails
regarding the unanswered questions, which will not only
waste your time and your customer's time but also cause
considerable frustration.

4. Always reply promptly.

People send an e-mail because they wish to receive a quick
response. If they did not want a quick response they would
send a letter or a fax. Therefore, each e-mail should be
replied to within at least 24 hours, and preferably within
the same working day. There's just no excuse not to be able
to do that. If the e-mail is complicated, just send an e-
mail back saying that you have received it and that you will
get back to them shortly.

5. Do not attach unnecessary files.

By sending large attachments you can annoy customers and
even bring down their e-mail system. Wherever possible try
to compress attachments and only send attachments when they
are productive. Moreover, you need to have a good virus
scanner in place since your customers will not be very happy
if you send them documents full of viruses!

6. Do not write in all CAPITALS.

This can be highly annoying and might trigger an unwanted
response in the form of a flame mail. Therefore, try not to
send any e-mail text in capitals.

7. Don't leave out the message thread.

When you reply to an e-mail, you must include the original
mail in your reply, in other words click 'Reply', instead
of 'New Mail'. Some people say that you must remove the
previous message since this has already been sent and is
therefore unnecessary. However, I disagree. If you receive
many e-mails, you obviously cannot remember each individual
e-mail. This means that a 'threadless e-mail' will not
provide enough information and you will have to spend a
frustratingly long time to find out the context of the e-
mail in order to deal with it. Leaving the thread might take
a fraction longer in download time, but it will save the
recipient much more time and frustration in looking for the
related e-mails in their inbox!

8. Always proofread your e-mail before you send it.

A lot of people don't bother to read their e-mail before
they send it out. This is evidenced by the many spelling and
grammar mistakes contained in e-mails. Apart from this,
reading your e-mail through the eyes of the recipient will
help you send a more effective message and avoid
misunderstandings and inappropriate comments.

9. Mass Mailings: Use the Bcc: field or do a mail merge.

When sending an e-mail mailing, some people place all the e-
mail addresses in the To: field. There are two drawbacks to
this practice: (1) the recipient knows that you have sent
the same message to a large number of recipients, and (2)
you are publicizing someone else's e-mail address without
their permission. One way to get round this is to place all
addresses in the Bcc: field.

However, the recipient will only see the address from the
To: field in their e-mail, so if this was empty, the To:
field will be blank and this might look like spamming. You
could include the mailing list e-mail address in the To:
field, or even better, if you have Microsoft Outlook and
Word you can do a mail merge and create one message for each
recipient. A mail merge also allows you to use fields in the
message so that you can for instance address each recipient

10. Be careful with abbreviations and emoticons.

In business e-mails, try not to use abbreviations such as
BTW (by the way) and LOL (laugh out loud). The recipient
might not be aware of the meanings of the abbreviations and
in business e-mails these are generally not appropriate. The
same goes for emoticons, such as the smiley :-). If you are
not sure whether your recipient knows what it means, it is
better not to use it.

11. Don't forward virus hoaxes and chain letters.

If you receive an e-mail message warning you of a new super
virus that will immediately delete everything from your
computer, this is most likely a hoax. By forwarding hoaxes
you use valuable bandwidth and sometimes virus hoaxes
contain viruses themselves, by attaching a so-called file
that will stop the super virus.

The same goes for chain letters that promise incredible
riches or ask your help for a charitable cause. Even if the
content seems to be bona fide, the senders are usually not.
Since it is impossible to determine whether a chain letter
is real or not, the best place for ALL chain letters is the
recycle bin.

12. Never make any libelous, sexist or racially
discriminating comments in e-mails, even if they are meant
to be a joke. There's nothing remotely funny about those
types of comments. All they do is perpetuate an ugly,
endless cycle of ignorance and intolerance.

13. Don't send or forward e-mails containing libelous,
defamatory, offensive, racist or obscene remarks.

By sending or even just forwarding one libelous, or
offensive remark in an e-mail, you and your company can face
court cases resulting in multi-million dollar penalties.

There's too much of this garbage already being circulated on
the Internet. Don't get involved with this ignorant and
irresponsible behavior.

14. Don't reply to SPAM.

By replying to SPAM or by unsubscribing, you are confirming
that your e-mail address is "live." Confirming this will
only generate even more SPAM. Therefore, just hit the delete
button or use e-mail software to remove SPAM automatically.