Email Etiquette @ Work

Email Etiquette @ Work

2012-03-28

by Richard White

You know, every few months it seems I read another article about “the death of email.” It’s being replaced by chatting (online). It’s being replaced by texting (on phones). It’s being replaced by always-on social networking sites, mostly Facebook, or maybe Twitter.

It’s true that email doesn’t have the same luster that it once had, but it’s still the backbone of Internet-based communication, if only because all those fancy networking sites, still rely on email to validate your membership.

In the workplace, though, email is still king, despite the fact that it gets horribly misused by so many.

All that’s about to change, though.

Here are four simple things you can do to make email better for you and those you love (your coworkers). This won’t fix everything, but it’s a damn good start.

  1. Please don’t give me a paper copy of that letter, or that document, or that report. I don’t need a paper version, or if I do, I’ll print one. What I really need is an an electronic copy of the file. Email it to me. Thanks.
  2. When you attach that file to the email… don’t forget to attach it. If you DO forget to attach it, just send a quick follow-up email with the same Subject as before, and and the body with the document attached. That way I’ll be easily able to find the follow-up email.
  3. For work emails, use clear, succinct subject lines that inform the recipient of the contents. Subject lines like “Great news!” or “We need to talk” are useless. Instead, use “Update in History Curriculum” or “Meet with you on Thursday?”
  4. Reply at the top of an email, not at the bottom. Don’t force readers to scroll all the way to the bottom of an email to find what you wrote. Your message is important, and should be placed at the top of the reply where it can be quickly and easily found. (If you find this preference abhorrent, I’d urge you to consider the fact that Google’s GMail and Apple’s Mail.app implement top-replying by default, and don’t even offer an option for bottom-replies.)

What other possibilities are there for improving email in the workplace? Love it or hate it, managing your email and your emailing habits is a part of modern life.

Embrace the email!

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