Nowadays, email is a primary form of communication in the business world because it allows people to work within their own schedules and time-management styles. With its ease of use, however, we may be sending more messages than is necessary, contributing to a general email overload that can mask which items are most important. Here are some guidelines in regards to proper business email etiquette that may help you refine your email practices:
- Sending/Responding to All: Before you send a mass email to all of your contacts or reply to all on an email, ask yourself if each of those people really have a need to know the information within your message. While this may cover all bases, it is disrespectful to the recipients of your message that aren’t an essential part of the conversation by wasting their time and clogging their inbox.
- Attempting Complicated Conversations: If you know that an exchange is likely to require, well, a lot of exchanges, then email isn’t the right venue for the job. Although you will have a record of everything said, important information could be delayed and there will be a lot of unnecessary messages back and forth. Your issue will be resolved more quickly if you just make a phone call.
- Vague Subject Lines: Until your message’s recipient actually opens your communication, all that will be visible is the subject line. Since you don’t know the other person’s schedule, be respectful of their time and create a subject line that gives a real inkling as to the content of your message. This way, he or she can scan the inbox and still have an idea if it’s crucial to open your communication right then or if it can wait until later in the day.
- Eleventh-Hour Cancellations: If you need to cancel or reschedule a meeting at the last minute, this is a time to pick up a phone and call. You don’t know for sure if the other person or group is even going to see that email before showing up at a meeting or event, and leaving such a thing to chance could wreak havoc with their schedule when their time could be better spent on other things.
- Not Responding: Although generic emails don’t necessarily require a response, don’t forget to respond to legitimate emails. Even if you’re short on time and won’t be able to answer a question posed in an email fully, it only takes a few moments to shoot a message that says, “I’ll look into that and be back with you later today.” This lets the sender know you’ve seen the email and will address its contents in due time.
Keep these 5 business email etiquette annoyances in mind when communicating with co-workers or clients. And for more on office productivity read 10 Ways to Minimize Workplace Interruptions.