Have you ever received an email from a colleague that made you want to hide on their behalf? Or worse, been the writer of such an email and wished you could recall it 10 seconds after pressing send and realising all the errors you made? Epic fails in emails are hard to come back from – especially once opened. Composing professional emails is a communication art. So, here are some tips and tricks to help you email like a boss.

What is email etiquette?

Email etiquette is the term given to the code of conduct one should follow when sending or receiving emails. There are general rules that apply across the board, regardless of who you’re sending emails to like proper punctuation and being polite. It is important to note, however, that you can slightly bend the rules depending on whom your email is going to.  

Why is email etiquette important?

Email is a form of communication and communication forms the basis of all kinds of relationships. The way you communicate, more in emails when the recipient may not have a face-to-face encounter with you, they get to know you on a personal level, or you get the opportunity to explain yourself in person.  It’s your first shot to make a good and lasting impression.

  • Professional. Email etiquette is important because it highlights your professional image and that of the company you represent.
  • Efficient. Emails that are written well are quick, concise, and direct.

Emails are also a great way to keep track of discussions with an individual, helps the team track the conversations, and gives you written evidence of decisions that may have been made down the line.

Free email etiquette courses

Top email etiquette tips

Emails are a popular and effective communication tool in the workplace. Being a great communicator will strengthen relationships, give you authority, and help you become more successful

  1.     Add a subject

The subject of the email tells the reader what the email communication is about. Choose a clear and concise subject line that includes essential information.

  1.     Be formal

Profession emails to your colleagues, clients, and to your boss are not the same as emails you would send to your friends. Therefore, you need to maintain a professional and formal tone in your emails. Additionally, send your emails from your work or professional email address. For example, the CEO receiving an email from ‘[email protected]’ about this quarter’s financial reports, may move to the spam box or not be taken seriously.

  1.     Customise your emails

Sometimes, you need to send a bulk email but there’s no better feeling to receive an email that you know is just for you. You can do this by using the recipient’s name and mentioning something that is unique to them. For example, “Good morning, Jeff, Congratulations on obtaining your financial qualification…”. A personal touch…is a nice touch.

  1.     Proofread

Mistakes do happen but make sure you check your email for grammar errors, spelling mistakes, and correct punctuation usage before hitting “send”. Error-laden emails can be off-putting to the reader. Invest in online writing services like Grammarly to help you compose well-crafted emails.

  1.     Limit emotions

We’re human and do have emotions. However, as working professionals, we need to be mindful of not letting our feelings get the best of us. Adding emojis and exclamation points after each sentence will result in your email being perceived as unprofessional and not taken seriously. Be friendly and cordial and give compliments but don’t vent your frustrations or say anything you’ll regret later via email.

  1.     Be confident

Confidence is key is not just a saying. It translates well in email communication and makes the reader have confidence not just in your abilities, but in what you’re saying. Avoid using doubtful phrases like ‘think’ as this will cast doubt on your expertise.

  1.     Be concise

People are busy, and at times, attention spans may be short. This is especially true when a colleague or your supervisor must work through tens and tens of emails daily. You don’t want to waste time writing the email or take up their time reading it. Be concise. Provide only necessary information and avoid flowery language that will lengthen the email but not add value to it.

Remember, Proper email is a balance between politeness and succinctness”, Guy Kawasaki.

Additional emailing tips to remember

  • Be mindful of the ‘reply to all’ button. Does everyone need to see your reply to the email?
  • Have a CTA (call to action) in the email. This is informing the reader of what you will do or what you would like them to do.
  • Include a signature. This lets people know who they are communicating with and their designation. This can also include additional business information like links to the website and social media pages.
  • Attachments and links. Check if you have included the mentioned attachments and added the links to the copy.
  • Think before you ‘forward’ an email. Some communications may contain sensitive information that not everyone should be privy to.
  • Take advantage of Outlook hacks. These days, Outlook has integrated multiple tools and functionalities to aid productivity and help you design your email to your specifications.

And proofread one more time before hitting “send”.

Remember that sending emails is a powerful way to channel information to your team, leader, clients, and your suppliers. Whether you are the sender or the receiver of the email, take note that emailing serves as an important communication tool and as thus, should be used well.

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