Email Etiquette 101

Email has not been around for long. I’ve only been using it for the past decade or so. And that’s why I am not surprised to see that many people still make mistakes while emailing. In my business, I get a lot of email. From curious people who want to pick my brains for free, from prospects, from clients, from friends.

Some people are born with a higher consciousness and heightened self-awareness which means they are mindful and considerate of what others think and feel. As a result, they check their actions and words.

Others are born without this self-awareness, tending to bulldoze their way through everything and wonder why people dislike them intensely. Not because they intend to be rude as they’re usually harmless – it’s just that they don’t know when they’ve offended people. These people are the ones who will need email etiquette 101 the most.
Here’s a list of what this group should be aware of:

1. Realise that if you are emailing huge files, please call the recipient first and alert him that you will be doing so. Do not bomb people’s Inbox with a file that is 10 Mb in size. It’s rude, yes, downright rude because that huge attachment itself will take a long time to download, particularly if the recipient uses an email client programme like MS Outlook Express. (By the way, there is a difference between MS Outlook and MS Outlook Express!)

2. It is also rude not to put a salutation on the email. You may think it’s okay, after all the email is intended for the recipient but a “Dear (recipient’s name)” or “Hi (recipient’s name)” won’t take more than 2 seconds to type.

3. Do not put words you speak directly into your email. Especially if you tend to speak in short sentences. You will come across as curt and abrupt in your email. Read aloud your email and see if the words are jarring. If it is, it’s time to re-write!

4. Do not ‘scream’ in your email. No capitals all the way (IT IS VERY HARD TO READ WORDS IN ALL CAPS YOU KNOW), no exclamation marks in succession (like this !!!!!), no crazy typefaces in hot pink and hot green unless you are emailing a friend of yours whom I presume knows you well.

5. When you are emailing an attachment, please tell the recipient how big the attachment is and what it is, unless it is some surprise. Don’t know how to find out the attachment’s size? Just right-click on the file you’re sending and scroll down to “Properties”. Click that and you will see how big your file is.

6. If you are emailing a number of people and they don’t know each other, please put them under BCC (which stands for Blind Carbon Copy). It means they will not see each other’s email addresses when they open your email. This also applies when you are forwarding a joke to friends. Erase the rest of the other people’s email addresses and just forward the crux of the email which is the joke itself. Your recipients don’t need to see the long list of email addresses. Just a note: unethical companies mine these email addresses for spamming when everyone’s email address is exposed in forwarded emails.

7. When you are posting a reply to a mailing list group such as YahooGroups, please erase the rest of the old message if you don’t want to annoy others who have read these messages before. Just get to the point.

8. When you are emailing a photograph, ensure you have re-sized the photo. Do not automatically attach the photo with your email as the photo is usually large. When it is opened by the recipient, it would take up the whole screen and more. Don’t know how to re-size photo? Check the software which comes with your digital camera. It usually has some photo re-sizing software included.

9. If you receive an email which needs a long answer, why not shoot off a quick reply which says “Hi there, I got your email. Will reply later this week.” This lets the other party know that the email is safe and sound with you and not lost in transition. You also prevent the other party from worrying whether he or she should email you again.

A lot of what I listed above is plain commonsense but then again, commonsense is not as common as you might believe.

If you have been driven crazy by other people’s emails and want to share your tips, please let me know. We can probably share notes!;-)

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