19 Aug 2008

E-mail etiquette...or lack thereof

Back from vacation and swamped by the hundreds of arbitrary emails about coffee-pot status or cafeteria menus? Did a few over zealous colleagues, who love to hit the Reply to All button, crash your inbox this summer? On the IT blog site Technology Coach, Scott Kendall offers his 20 or so best tips for how to keep e-mail effective and professional without having to resort to fisticuffs.

Here is an abridged version of a few of the most useful tips:

• Don't send private messages from the company account. Instead use free accounts such as Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo. This way the content of your e-mails stays private and you don’t have to use up expensive corporate IT capacity.
• Think before sending an e-mail you may later regret. An e-mail can live on for years in recipient inboxes, later to return in choice quotations.
• Don’t e-mail angry. If someone sends you an e-mail that upsets you, make sure you haven't misunderstood. Instead of responding angrily, quote the portion of text that you are unsure of and ask the sender to clarify. Indicate what you think it means, and then ask if you've misunderstood.
• For the love of God, think before hitting the ‘Reply to All’ button. If someone has sent a group e-mail, don't reply to everyone if you don’t need to. More specifically, it is OK to sit out a thread or group conversation if you are not being addressed directly.
• Be brief. This is business communication, not literary prose á la Dostoevsky.
• Write meaningful subject lines. Give recipients a clue as to what your e-mail is about. This is increasingly necessary to distinguish legit emails from spam. The latter's subject lines are often deceptive.

There are several other sites that offer advice on e-mail etiquette, such as Emailreplies.com and the Business Writing Blog.

/David

1 comment:

Mark said...

Sage stuff. I can't agree more strongly with the "Reply to all" suggestion. It can be very annoying getting a whole thread of useless e-mails.