Over a month ago I had a friend ask me the proper way to respond to emails. She is a journalist and is constantly contacting people and following up on stories. Ever the professional she makes sure to cross every t and dot every i. She says that often she will receive emails back that are sloppily written and often lack any proper grammer and punctuation. She asked me how she should respond to these emails that are often so casual they aren’t even addressed with a “Hello ‘so and so.'”
I think we all have dealt with this at one point or another, you email a colleague or client and after a few vollies back and forth you get comfortable and start letting your etiquette slip. So here are a few “rules” to keep in mind when writing an email to someone (some more obvious then others.) I also have a short list of links to sites that detail email etiquette do’s and don’ts.
Tips for email etiquette
-Start out an email with a greeting, the less you know the person the more professional it should be.
– Shadow the persons way of communicating. If they are more laid back and you have developed a bit of a rapport with them don’t be afraid to let your guard down a bit. This doesn’t mean starting an email out with “yo homie” (Unless of course this is to a close friend and that’s what you call one another.)
– Always end an email with word that you will follow up by a certain date / time or that you are available should they need you.
– Keep it professional. Even if it is a work colleague or client doesn’t mean you should REALLY tell them how your weekend was, if they asked.
In short just follow the persons lead. If you can tell that they prefer to keep communication more professional then do so. If they are casual about their emails then allow your self to be so as well. However do not let your grammer or punctuation slide. Just because they send an email written with the style of Kerouac doesn’t mean you should. Remember this is your professional personality coming through email, Nt a txt u send sat nite.
If you are sending something from a smartphone don’t throw punctuation out the window just because it’s easy. Also, when sending quick work emails to coworkers also roll with they way they send emails. There’s nothing worse then having to sift through a paragraph long email just to find the answer to a quick question they asked. Be succinct and polite.
Here are a few links for more do’s and don’ts of email etiquette:
Remember attention to detail is what can separate you from the heard. Be polite, be timely and most of all let your personality shine though.