Email Etiquette: How do we Appear to Others?
By Charles Oropallo
In what appears to be a desperate pursuit of both economy and productivity,
many people seem to have really gone off the deep end attempting to communicate
entirely via email (and more recently via text messaging). But are we really
getting across exactly what we mean so say?
Be sure the "Subject:" field accurately reflects the content of your email:
This makes it easier for both the sender and receiver to identify messages
and keep them organized.
Limit the topic: If you want to ensure that any questions about the topic
are responded to, keep the message simple and stick to expecting one answer
about one question. Otherwise, people generally do not answer all that you ask.
Be courteous: Make sure your e-mail includes a courteous greeting and
closing. It is especially important to remember that email does NOT have voice
inflection, so make sure your written words do not seem demanding (such as when
you USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS or numerous exclamation points) or terse (such as
when you treat email like text messages).
Include previous message: Be sure you are including all relevant details
or information necessary to understand your request or point of view.
Generalities can many times cause confusion and unnecessary back and forths.
Signatures: Even though you think that your recipient knows who you are,
it is polite to include a "signature" at the end of your message — your name,
your affiliation, your phone number and (perhaps if appropriate) your address.
Use attachments wisely (and sparingly): Attachments are a convenient way
to share files with colleagues. They are not meant to distribute information to
large numbers of people. Sending a giant file to a huge group of people is both
wasteful and rude. It takes up bandwidth, and for many people who might read the
message over a modem, it takes up time. As a general rule, send attachments only
to colleagues you know well.
Email does not replace the phone: Messages that require immediate
attention or response are best dealt with in a phone call. Do not assume that
people are checking their email every few minutes.
Replying to messages: When replying to an email message, check the list
of recipients. If the message you received went to more than one recipient, your
reply will go to ALL of those recipients as well if you reply to ALL.
Use caution: Email is easily shared with the public, so be careful what
your message contains!