At a recent interview with WGN Morning News (Chicago), we covered several etiquette tips relating to technology in the workplace. Not surprisingly, one topic generated many follow-up emails: the dreaded “Reply All” response which often bombards people with information they aren’t interested in receiving. In the office, between friends, and certainly among well intentioned parents responding to coaches and team organizers, your inbox can easily turn into a litany of single word responses. One innocent email inquiry requesting a snack sign up for the soccer game can result in 87 emails about a bag of tangerines. Following a few simple email etiquette tips can save everyone from that headache.
The solution to this “exploding inbox syndrome”: when asked a simple question, respond specifically to the original sender. This holds true in business or your personal life and spares everyone else on the list from irrelevant emails, such as, “Yes, I’ll be there,” a, “No, my cousin is in town, maybe next time” or, “I’m not sure yet, I need to check with the sitter.” The responsibility lies with the original sender to notify others when a need has been filled, whether for post-game snacks, event feedback, or the company picnic. Often there are other time-saving solutions available, like a shared Google Doc or sign-up sheet posted in an easily accessible location (whether virtual or stationed in the office).
Here are five more email etiquette tips to help ensure that people will welcome your correspondence, whether professional or personal:
- Email with caution. Barraging people with unnecessary emails will eventually lead them to ignore your message when you send something truly important.
- Shorter is better. Your email has a much higher chance of actually being read if it is short and sweet. Keep messages brief and get to the point quickly. People will gloss over a lengthy email and miss important ideas if they are contained within a multi-paragraph narrative.
- Highlight one topic per email. Send an individual email per topic to eliminate confusion. When looking back to an email to refresh your memory, it’s easier to search a clearly stated subject line.
- No privacy. Be careful what you write in an email. With a simple click, it can be accidentally (or purposely) forwarded just about anywhere. Don’t send anything you wouldn’t want to see in the news.
- Double-check your email before you hit “send”. Spell check, review once again and look over the recipient’s name to make sure you are sending it to the correct person. Now, take a breath and hit “Send”.
For more email etiquette tips read my Huffington Post blog, The Etiquette of a Professional Email.