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Monday, August 22, 2011

Where is the Etiquette

As I receive about 100 emails daily and I have little time some days to read all these emails.  The one issue that gets me is the reply-all feature for emails.  When do you reply-all or forward the email?  How are you suppose to write in the email?  Well, this came across my in box recently and I would like to share them with you.  They are from the Dale Carnegie® Training.  Read and enjoy these useful tips. If you have some to add either email us or add comments below.

E-Mail has been and continues to be an integral staple of the business world. Numerous businesses rely on this technology to communicate internally, to contact clients and customers, to help market their business and to reach out to venders and suppliers. E-Mail has increased multi-tasking and efficiency in the business world to levels once thought unimaginable.

You Get What You Put In When It Comes To e-Mail.

Unfortunately, abbreviations, chat speak, all-capped text, and unnecessarily shortened words ("u" instead of "you") all spilled over from chat messengers to e-mails. This does not fly in the business world due to the formal and established guidelines of etiquette -- especially if you expect to be taken seriously.

With that in mind, we picked ten of the most common business e-mail etiquette faux pas. We begin with the first five tips below.

10 Tips To Improve Your e-Mail Etiquette:

Tip #1. Leave the "To" Field Blank: That is, leave the "To" field blank until you have completed the e-mail in totality. This may seem like an odd thing to do, but it could just prevent you from sending an incomplete e-mail, or sending an e-mail prematurely before giving yourself a chance to proof it one last time or, if you are including attachments, not forgetting to include them.

Tip #2. Subject Lines That Motivate: The subject line you use can make or break an e-mail -- especially when it is used by your sales and marketing team. Remember, your subject line needs to be a short, sweet and to-the-point summary of your e-mail. If your e-mail is internal, abbreviations can be agreed upon to make subject lines aid in efficiently. For example, including "<AR>" ("Action Required") in an e-mail subject line will convey urgency succinctly.

Tip #3. Keep Your e-Mails Brief, Concise, And On Point: If someone wanted to read a novel, they would hop on or head to their local library. Therefore, when it comes to business e-mails, keeping things short is in your best interest. That being said, write in bullet format as often as you can and keep your sentences and paragraphs concise and simple. 

Tip #4. Mind Your Tone Or Attitude: So much of the verbal nuances that listeners can take cues from to understand sarcasm, light-heartedness, anger, or other emotional textures are lost in e-mail. While some people are more adept at reading tone in text, most people are not. So keep your e-mails as neutral sounding as possible to avoid misinterpretation.

Tip #5. Regard e-Mails As Business Letters: Unless you are dealing with a client, customer or recipient with whom you've had a long-standing relationship with, all early e-mails -- especially first time e-mails -- should be approached as though you are writing a business letter. Be professional, avoid abbreviations and do not use smiley faces.

Tip #6. Use Formal Grammar And Spelling: Inter-office e-mails have the luxury of being more casual or informal, but e-mails to prospects, clients and customers need to adhere to accepted forms of spelling, grammar and formatting. Sending a sloppy, hastily written e-mail peppered with typos and spelling errors will compromise your professionalism. And writing in all caps -- the textual equivalent of screaming or a loud, booming voice -- is simply unacceptable. Always run important e-mails through a spell checker just to play it safe.

Tip #7. Please Proof All e-Mails: Again, minor mistakes in inter-office emails can be forgiven. But first-time and early e-mails to a new contact need to be impeccable. Your writing (spelling, grammar, tone, voice, style, etc.) in an e-mail is the digital equivalent of the outfit you pick for your first meeting with someone -- it is the surface detail that we all judge someone by whether we mean to or not. So to avoid having your e-mail dismissed because of sloppy writing, do not hit "send" until you proof, proof, proof.

Tip #8. Don't Hide Behind e-Mail: This pertains more to inter-office e-mails than client e-mails, though it can apply to them as well. E-mail is a passive form of communication. People use the sense of anonymity and safety that the "distance" e-mails inherently possess as a way to avoid conflict or put on a show of bravado they never would on the phone or in person. Don't do this. Hiding behind e-mail to avoid an uncomfortable situation is only going to paint you in a negative light, and probably exacerbate the situation.

Tip #9. Ask To Send An Attachment: e-mail recipients are wary of attachments in fear that they might carry a virus, worm, trojan or other type of malware that might corrupt their computer or cause them to lose crucial data and have to spend money on a new machine unnecessarily. Attachments accompanying an unannounced e-mail are sure to be buried in the trash, so wait until a second or third e-mail before sending attachments, and always be sure to ask the recipient for permission to send them an attachment.

Tip #10. Include Contact Info In Signature: The last aspect of any business e-mail should be a signature that includes your name, job title, e-mail address, work phone number (and extension if you have one), website address, physical work address and any other pertinent contact information you may use at your business (such as messenger screen names). This allows your e-mail recipient to look into your business on their own, without having to contact you for more information, and when they are ready to contact you, all the information they need is right there in one convenient location.

Executive Summary: The prevalence of e-mail in today's business world has led to the degradation of e-mail etiquette. While the debate over informality versus formality is a subjective matter, in the business world it is safer to error on the side of formal, well-written e-mails that get right down to business in a concise manner. This is especially true of e-mails to first-time prospects or clients, where humor, informality and spelling/grammar mistakes risk presenting you as sloppy.

Your Next Step: If you want to find out more about how Dale Carnegie® Training can make your business more effective, or need more information on this subject, please send us an e-mail at the address below.

I am going to work on my etiquette are you?  Let us know and write some comments about our articles.  We are always looking for ideas to write about too.

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