010 110 0227
Mon - Fri 09:00-17:00

Email Etiquette: Rules for Professionals

A large portion of a person’s workday consists of responding to and sending business emails. This method is the main communication tool, even more so when working remotely. The traditional ways of communicating have been limited by the pandemic; however, technology has made it quicker and more convenient to converse via electronic mail. Another benefit emails offer is its record-keeping ability of all conversations, approval of decisions, as well as the effortless access to documents and images previously sent.

It is an easy-to-use professional communication tool, yes, but do you come across as being “professional” when you correspond on email? Going through big volumes of email increases the chance of errors occurring which might lead to embarrassing mistakes and can have severe professional consequences. A lot of professional people forget that as with Business EtiquetteEmail has its own set of rules.

Rule 1: Start with your email address.

If you want to be seen as a professional, look the part. Have an email address that has your company’s domain name in it, for example, SueNel@mycompany.co.za. If people don’t know you, a Gmail, Yahoo or Webmail address might come across as being unprofessional. The recipient might second guess the validity of your mail or company email firewalls might even remove it or send it to the spam box. If you only have a Gmail account, make sure the account name is professional.

Rule 2: Subject lines are extremely important.

You must write a subject line. Do not leave it out. Remember, this does not only give the recipient an idea of what the email is about but is also used as a reference when searching for previous emails. Do not write your subject line in capital letters and do not use words like “important” or “urgent”. People often decide which emails to open according to the subject line, so make it as descriptive but concise as possible. Something like, “Marketing Meeting date changed” or “Feb21 Presentation approval” or “2021 training schedule”, etc.

Rule 3: How to start your email.

How you start an email, matters. It sets the tone and may also determine whether a person continues reading or not. You need to greet properly. If it is an informal email to someone you know, a simple “Hi Ben” would suffice, but if it is more formal and professional address the person properly in the email by starting with, “Dear Mr Smit”. Stay away from expressions like “Hey Guys”, and if you don’t know the recipient do not shorten their name to what you think it might be, for example, “David” to “Dave”.

Rule 4: Email body, punctuation and language is key.

When you read an email, you want it clear and understandable. Write a concise email and leave out unnecessary detail but be clear and specific. Use a plain readable font at a reasonable size of about 11. The use of bullet points is recommended and minimizing jargon is advisable. Don’t forget to use proper punctuation, spelling and grammar. Do not write entire words or sentences all in capital letters as it might seem that you are shouting the words indirectly. If you want a certain fact or question to stand out in the mail, rather underline, bold, or italicize the words. If you are not sure what language your recipients speak, stick to English, the universal business language. Do not mix your languages.

Rule 5: Is there a place for humour and emojis in an email?

If it is a professional mail and you do not know the recipient as a friend or personally, then it is advisable to rather stay away from humour or the use of emojis in the email body. Remember that people come from different backgrounds and cultures. What might seem like a funny saying to you, can offend someone else.

Rule 6: Be polite, respectful, and courteous.

Expressing emotion when writing an email can be difficult and thus emails can easily be perceived as rude or disrespectful. The tone of writing might come across as having elements of agitation or aggression, even if that was not the intention. Make sure your tone of writing is always respectful and polite. Make sure that you reply timeously as this is also a sign of respect. Don’t send an email if you are irritated or angry with the recipient. Rather take a breather or let it “marinate” a bit before you press send.

Rule 7: Consider the attachments

If you mention, “Please see attached…” make sure that there is, in fact, a file attached before you press send. If it is professional documents you are sending, send PDFs – it is easier to attach and send because it is in lower resolution and people will be able to open a pdf regardless of which programme you used. As with all correspondence make sure punctuation, grammar and spelling is double checked before sending it out. Consider the size of the attachments. Do not send files bigger than 3MB. It might go through on your side but might block the recipient’s inbox. Always double check if you have attached the correct file.

Rule 8: Think before you press send.

Double, and even triple check if you are sending the email to the correct recipient. Look at everyone being CCd or BCCd and make sure that these people absolutely need to receive this email. Re-read your email and make sure you have answered all the questions or stated all you have to before pressing send.

Rule 9: Consider the lifespan of emails.

Remember that everything in writing can be used against you as proof and stays in someone’s server even if you have deleted it on Outlook. Never insult or make threats and inappropriate comments about anyone on email. Don’t share any confidential information on email.

E-mail is a vital part of business communication, unfortunately, many employees do not know how to use e-mail well nor do they understand the risks of what happens after they hit send. E-mail Etiquette is more important today than ever before. Yes, we’ve always been sending e-mails to our colleagues but there is now a new workforce, a Remote Workforce. E-mail Etiquette is currently trending in the training market as one of the top training requirements.

The Mindspa is continuously doing market research on trending topics to ensure we can deliver relevant and practical training in various methods to ensure your delegates are skilled and understand the consequences of an “innocent mistake”.

Is the below currently happening within your company that may seem familiar?

  • People do not respond to E-mails properly or professionally.
  • They do not respond to E-mail requests on time.
  • Is ‘The World’ copied on all E-mails.
  • Internal Jokes that may seem harmless or personal conversations.
  • Am I sending an E-mail when angry?
  • Has the E-mail been read through before ‘send’?
  • Is E-mail the best use of communication for a particular scenario?

The Mindspa Institute offers an effective E-mail Etiquette course that will change the way your company communicates. Fast, efficient, and straight to the point.