In our increasingly digital age (that shows little sign of slowing down), it’s not uncommon to spend more time interacting with colleagues via email than communicating face to face or even over the phone.
Because email is an essential part of daily professional operations, knowing the ins and outs of email etiquette is crucial. Check yourself for these email mishaps before the next time you press send:
1. Misspelling someone’s name
Of course, you should always read over your messages before you click ‘send,’ but if there’s one place you should make sure you pay attention, it’s the name of the recipient. Whether you carelessly leave out a letter or instantly type the most common spelling, while some can shrug off the mishap, others may take the lack of attention personally. The best way to avoid this is by copying and pasting the recipient's name into your greeting.
Though a polite greeting and opening should be included, when you need information from someone, it’s best to be direct. Giving extraneous information isn’t necessary and having to take the time to read about how great they are can be more cumbersome than appreciated. When making a request or asking a question, hold the excessive flattery.
3. Copying multiple people
Unless someone has a record of ignoring emails, copying someone’s boss or colleague when making a request makes it seem like you don’t trust that they’re capable of doing their job, or you’re really impatient.
4. “I anticipate your timely reply”
Nothing makes me want to put off responding to an email more than someone telling me when I’m going to respond to an email. It feels passive aggressive and assumes that the recipient has the time to respond in a ‘timely’ manner. People have long to-do lists, and you never know if your email is the second or seventieth they’ve received that day.
5. “Per my last email…”
‘Per my last email’ is basically the ‘bless your heart’ of the office world. Whether you intend for it to read this way or not, the recipient can interpret that you’re making a subtle dig that they aren’t paying attention.
6. “Dear sirs…”
As someone who has answered an alias for companies, I can say that even now, it’s incredible how many people assume a person representing a high-power institution is a man (or a group of men).
7. Marking your non-urgent message urgent
Unless the person you need to reach has WIFI access but not phone reception, I recommend speaking on Zoom or on the phone if you need to reach someone extremely quickly. If email is the primary mode of communication where you are, use the word urgent sparingly and correctly.
8. Not saying ‘thank you’
A little gratitude goes a long way. After someone has fulfilled a request for you, no matter how small, those two words can a long way. People remember who appreciates them, and in my experience are more likely to respond quickly to future requests.
Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize nominated poet. She is a contributing writer for Color My Bubble. Her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets anthology.