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Business Email Etiquette

Objectives 

Are emails private?

To Email or not to Email?

Subject, Greeting and Ending

CC vs. BCC

Reply vs. Reply All

Structure and Layout

Formatting an Email

Email Handling Tips

Email Account for Business Use 

In a workplace or college, an email account is usually assigned to you and you cannot choose your own

A personal email account says a lot about one’s personality

Have a personal email account that is independent from your Internet provider, schools and current workplace ◦ If you change your Internet provider, school, or workplace you will not have to change you email account

Email Account for Business Use

Are Emails Private? 

There is no such thing as a private email

NEVER send anything through email that you do not want to make public ◦ There is no way of knowing who will eventually read your messages, so make sure whatever you enter in your message cannot return to haunt you later

Not only should you assume that every email you send will get forwarded to someone else, you should assume that every email you send will someday be read aloud in a court of law

Are Emails Private? 

If you send it from the office, it comes from the office

◦ Personal emails sent from the office are regarded as official company communications regardless of content ◦ Remember you are on a company time

Employers have reasons for monitoring employees’ computer activity ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦

Maintain organization’s reputation Improve employee productivity Increase security Prevent employee disclosure of trade secrets/other confidential information

Emails are considered company property and can be retrieved, examined, and used in a court of law

Emails could possibly expose you and your company to unnecessary risk

Are Email Messages Permanent? 

Email messages are permanent ◦ Corporate mail systems are backed up regularly ◦ Archives can stretch back for several years ◦ Archives allow access to mail that you may have thought was deleted forever ◦ There have been several high-profile cases where archived emails have been recovered and used in legal cases ◦ By deleting an email, you are only deleting the email from your own email account, not from the email server or back up system

To Email or not to Email? 

Don't assume that emails are always the best method of communication

Determine if the communication would be better served by phone or face-to-face

Remember, your tone can't be heard in an email

Don't assume that using a smiley will diffuse a difficult message

To Email or not to Email? 

Email communication can't convey the nuances of verbal communication

Unlike face-to-face meetings or even phone calls, those who read your email messages don’t have the benefit of your pitch, tone, inflection, or other non-verbal cues

In an attempt to infer tone of voice, some people use emoticons/smileys. However you should use them sparingly so that you don't appear unprofessional

To Email or not to Email? 

Don't forget the value of face-to-face or even voice-tovoice communication

Don't use emails as an excuse to avoid personal contact

If you have a problem with someone, speak with that person directly

Don't use emails to avoid an uncomfortable situation or to cover up a mistake

Email communication isn't appropriate when sending confusing or emotional messages

Think of the times you've heard someone in the office indignantly say, "Well, I sent you an email“

Email Subject Field 

Use a subject that is meaningful to the recipient as well as yourself and accurately reflects the content of your email ◦ For instance, 'Product A Information' is better than to just say ‘Product Information' ◦ No subject can get your email flagged as spam

Don’t discuss multiple subjects in a single message

◦ If you need to discuss more than one subject, send multiple emails ◦ It easy to scan subject lines later to find the message you need ◦ It also contributes to briefer email messages and a greater likelihood of a response ◦ The more specific you can be about your subject heading, the better

Greeting and Ending

Greeting and Ending

To: and From: Fields 

When sending an email to a group of people, placing all email addresses in the To: field has major drawbacks ◦ ◦ ◦

The recipient knows that you have sent the same message to a large number of recipients You are publicizing someone else's email address without their permission You do not know if those emails will not end up in hands of spammers

If you have Microsoft Outlook and MS Word you can do a Mail Merge and create one message for each recipient ◦ ◦

Mail Merge also allows you to use fields in the message so that for instance you can address each recipient personally For more information on how to use Mail Merge, consult the Help in Word

Cc: and Bcc: Fields 

Cc: (carbon copy) - Everyone can see all recipients

Bcc: (blind carbon copy) – Recipients’ email addresses are hidden

When forwarding emails that you know will be forwarded by others ◦ Remove the addresses that were there ◦ Use bcc: for your distribution list to keep each email private

Cc: and Bcc: Fields 

Use Cc: field sparingly

Try not to use the cc: field unless the recipient in the Cc: field knows why they are receiving a copy of the message

Using the Cc: field can be confusing since the recipients might not know who is supposed to act on the message

When responding to a Cc: message, should you include the other recipient in the Cc: field as well?

◦ This will depend on the situation ◦ In general, do not include the person in the cc: field unless you have a particular reason for wanting this person to see your response ◦ Make sure that this person will know why they are receiving a copy

Reply vs. Reply All 

If you click Reply, your reply will only go to the sender (address in From:) of the original message

If you click Reply All, your reply will be addressed to the sender (From:) of the original message and all other recipients of that message (To: and Cc:)

Only use Reply All if you really need your message to be seen by each person who received the original message

Structure and Layout 

Many professionals receive over 40 emails or more daily

Reading from a screen is more difficult than reading from paper

Long emails can be very discouraging to read

Use short paragraphs and blank lines between each paragraph

When making points, number them using numbered list or mark each point as separate using bullet lists to keep the overview

Keep your emails as concise as possible

Try to keep your message to a maximum of two screens

Email Etiquette – Body of an Email 

Avoid long sentences ◦ Emails are meant to be a quick medium and require a different kind of writing than letters

Type in complete sentences

Typing random phrases or cryptic thoughts creates unclear communication

Never assume the intent of an email ◦ If you are not sure -- ask so as to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and potential conflicts

Structure and Layout (cont’d) 

In business emails, including emails to instructors, abbreviations and acronyms (BTW , LOL, im) are generally not appropriate

Avoid long paragraphs

Use emoticons sparingly to ensure your tone and intent are clear, but be careful ◦ The recipient might not be aware of the meanings ◦ If you are not sure whether your recipient knows what it means, it is better not to use it

Spelling and Grammar 

If a emale is writon with speeling mestakes and gramitckal errors, you mite git the meening, however, the messige is not as affective, or smoothly redable

Chekc you're speeling adn grammer

Use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation

◦ Improper spelling, grammar and punctuation give a bad impression of you and your company ◦ Capitalize the first word of each sentence ◦ Improper spelling, grammar and punctuation may sometimes change the meaning of the text ◦ In Outlook, turn Always Check Spelling Before Sending option on

Formatting an Email 

Do not write in CAPITALS, large bold and red color


◦ IT SEEMS AS IF YOU ARE SHOUTING ◦ It is highly annoying and might trigger an unwanted response in the form of a flame mail 

Multiple instances of “!!!”, “???”, and “…” are perceived as rude or condescending

Formatting an Email 

If you bold your text, know you are bolding your statement and it will be taken that way by the other side - x10!

wHaTeVeR YoU cAlL tHiS? Use sentence case

Typing your emails in all small case gives the perception of lack of education or laziness

Formatting an Email (cont’d) 

The recipient might only be able to receive plain text emails

The recipient might not be able to view formatting, or might see different fonts than you had intended

Stay away from fancy fonts -- only the standard fonts are on all computers

When using colors, use a color that is easy to read on the background

Formatting an Email (cont’d) 

Refrain from using multiple font colors in one email ◦ makes your email harder to view ◦ can add to your intent being misinterpreted

Patterned backgrounds make your email harder to read

Avoid relying on formatting for emphasis; rather choose the most accurate words possible that reflect your meaning and tone instead and avoid misunderstandings in the process

Email Etiquette – Body of an Email 

Include all relevant details or information necessary to understand your request or point of view

◦ Generalities many times can cause unnecessary confusion back and forth.

Keep your language gender neutral

◦ Avoid using sexist language such as: 'The user should add a signature by configuring his email program' ◦ Use the neutral gender: ''The user should add a signature by configuring the email program' ◦ Use “he/she”

Be aware of cultural differences

Avoid using slang, especially when sending emails internationally

◦ Slang can be misconstrued, offend a recipient, or considered breach of etiquette

Email Etiquette – Body of an Email 

Double-check all facts and figures ◦ Sending incorrect information causes delays, bad decisions, loss of sale, etc.

Always include the original email in your reply ◦ Click 'Reply', instead of 'New Mail' ◦ Leaving the thread will save you and your recipient much more time and frustration in looking for the related emails in their inbox

Email Etiquette – Body of an Email 

Assume the highest level of formality with new email contacts until the relationship dictates otherwise

Formality is a courtesy and reflects respect

Refrain from getting too informal too soon in your email communications

You Are What You Write 

You are what you type and how you type it

Don’t assume what anyone means – take them at their word – same as you should expect to be responsible for every word that you type

Understand the people you email will be hanging on every word, how you use the word and each word’s specific meaning

"I didn’t mean it that way" does not apply online

If you typed it, the recipient will take the words you type at their face value

You Are What You Write 

Tone can be easily mistaken in emails ◦ Those who read your email messages don’t have the benefit of your pitch, tone, inflection, or other nonverbal cues

Read your email out loud to ensure the tone is what you desire ◦ Reading your email through the eyes of the recipient will help you send a more effective message and avoid misunderstandings and inappropriate comments ◦ Stop and think about how you’d react if you were on the receiving end of your email  Would you be pleased?  Would you be motivated?  Would you feel affronted and wronged?

You Are What You Write 

Be polite and type to others as you would have them type unto you

If you cannot say it to their face – do not send it

Sarcasm is especially dangerous

You Are What You Write 

The more matter-of-fact you can be, the better

If something gets “lost in translation,” you risk offending the other party

Don’t reply in anger ◦ Angry emails almost never serve their purpose or your long-term interests ◦ They burn up relationships faster than just about anything you can do ◦ If it makes you feel better, write the message, then delete it ◦ Usually a day or two after you didn’t send an angry email, you’ll understand the wisdom of restraint.

You Are What You Write 

Emails are not an appropriate medium for criticism

Chances are, you will simply offend the other person, and they will miss your point

Especially, don’t use email to criticize a third party ◦ Email messages live forever ◦ They are easily forwarded ◦ You can create a firestorm of conflict if you are not careful

Dealing with Negative Emails 

Part of participating online is that there will be times that you will get emails from others who ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦

may not be happy with something you said have a difference of opinion simply misinformed do not have all the facts

Calmly and professionally respond to their email point by point

Dealing with Negative Emails 

Reply with understanding and courtesy and know that not everyone will have the same ideas as you do all the time and there is nothing wrong with that!

Sometimes it is best to just walk away when conversations degrade and mature discussions are no longer possible ◦ Don’t lower yourself to their level by resorting to name calling and personal digs that have nothing to do with the issues in dispute ◦ If your reply produces even more of the same attacks from the sender, don’t reply again ◦ Create a filter in your email program to identify their email address on the download and send it directly to your trash and avoid future aggravation

Email Attachments 

Always minimize, compress or “zip” large files before sending

Get in the habit of compressing anything over 500,000 bytes (500K)

◦ You can view file sizes in Windows Explorer ◦ Right click on the file name and choose properties

Long documents, graphics and/or photos are large enough to fill someone’s email box and cause their other emails to bounce

When attaching a file to your email, be certain you have actually attached the file ◦ Time is wasted for all who receive an empty email that is supposed to include an attachment

High Priority Option 

Do not overuse the high priority option

If you overuse the high priority option, it will lose its function when you really need it

Even if an email has high priority, your message will come across as slightly aggressive if you flag it as 'high priority'

Your urgency is not necessarily the recipients’ emergency

Email Etiquette – Sending an Email 

Always reread the messages before sending them

If your email is emotionally charged, walk away ◦ Walk away from the computer and wait to reply ◦ Review the Sender's email again so that you are sure you are not reading anything into the email that simply isn't there

Don't send or forward emails containing libelous, defamatory, offensive, racist or obscene remarks ◦ By sending or even just forwarding one libelous, or offensive remark in an email, you and your company can face court cases resulting in multi-million dollar penalties

Email Etiquette – Body of an Email 

Answer all questions, and pre-empt further questions

◦ When you do not answer all the questions in the original email you will

 receive further emails regarding the unanswered questions  waste your time and your recipient’s time and also cause considerable frustration

◦ If you are able to pre-empt relevant questions, your customer will be grateful and impressed with your efficient and thoughtful customer service. 

Use the active voice of a verb wherever possible

◦ 'We will process your order today', sounds more personal and active ◦ 'Your order will be processed today‘, makes you sound bland and uncaring. As though the recipient is talking to a robot.

Email Etiquette – Sending an Email 

When sending a message to a group, make sure your message is pertinent to all members of a group ◦ People do not like having to take time to weed out messages

Always get writer’s permission before forwarding or posting an email message ◦ Very often people who send emails assume that the message will be kept confidential

Email Etiquette – Before You Click Send 

Before clicking the Send button, make one last check ◦ Check that the address(es) in the To:, CC: and BCC: fields are those you wish to send your reply to - If a message received by a wrong person, it could be very embarrassing ◦ Check the subject line ◦ Check the attachment(s) ◦ Reread the email ◦ Check the greeting line ◦ Check the signature line

Handling Email Tips 

Check your emails frequently ◦ You might want to check your messages first thing in the morning, at noon, and again late in the afternoon

Respond to messages promptly, within at least 24 hours, preferably within the same working day ◦ Answering emails promptly lets everyone know you are on top of things and can be relied on for prompt response ◦ If the email is complicated, just send an email back saying that you have received it and that you will get back to them within x hours/days. This will put the sender’s mind at rest.

Handling Emails Tips (cont’d) 

Move emails out of the Inbox as soon as you replied ◦ Cluttered Inbox is like a cluttered desk ◦ Think of your Inbox as To-do list

Do not delete messages ◦ Create folders in your email box and save answered emails there – you never know when you might need them ◦ Treat emails the same way you treat any paper document

Handling Emails Tips (cont’d) 

Try to have no more than one screen of emails sitting in your Inbox at one time

Templates with frequently used responses save time

Compose complex email messages using word processing software

Use automatic replies when out of office

Handling Emails Tips (cont’d) 

Don't forward virus hoaxes and chain letters

If you receive an email message warning you of a new unstoppable virus that will immediately delete everything from your computer, this is most probably a hoax

By forwarding hoaxes you waste valuable bandwidth and sometimes virus hoaxes contain viruses themselves, by attaching a so-called file that will stop the dangerous virus

Don't reply to spam, delete them

Handling Emails Tips (cont’d) 

The same goes for chain letters that promise incredible riches or ask your help for a charitable cause. Even if the content seems to be bona fide, the senders are usually not.

Since it is impossible to find out whether a chain letter is real or not, the best place for it is the recycle bin.

By replying to spam or by unsubscribing, you are confirming that your email address is 'live'.

Confirming this will only generate even more spam.

Commonly Used Terminology 

Hoax - message which is written to deliberately spread fear, uncertainty and doubt

Chain mail – messages that ask the recipient to forward the email to multiple people. Many chain letter emails are hoaxes and are often considered to be a security and privacy risk

Spam - electronic junk mail

Phishing - The act of sending an email to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft

Commonly Used Terminology (cont’d) 

Flaming - message in which the writer attacks another participant in overly harsh, and often personal, terms

Trolling - To deliberately post derogatory or inflammatory emails in order to bait other users into responding

Netiquette - (short for "network etiquette" or "Internet etiquette") is a set of social conventions that facilitate interaction over networks

In Conclusion 

Business is all about relationships; people do business with people

It takes very little effort and is so important to setting the tone and level of formality (respect) dictated by your relationship with the person on the other side

You want to think of your email as a serious communication tool, not an excuse to forget about being courteous or friendly

To insinuate you are better than others or that your time is too valuable to spend on the simple formalities mentioned here, is to be perceived as not having consideration for the human being on the other end of the pipeline

Additional Notes (cont’d) 

When in doubt, email your instructor!

Email immediately to your instructor if you experience any course related difficulties

Due to increased spam, please send emails only from your school email account ◦ Emails sent from any other email account will be rejected

Be courteous to your fellow classmates – send only one email about an issue ◦ Regardless of where email was sent from (myitlab, Blackboard, personal email), it will be forwarded to the same instructor's email account ◦ Multiple emails on the same issue will only delay the response and problem resolution

Additional Notes 

The instructor will do her best to reply next school business day

In the subject line specify semester and course, your last and first name, and assignment number followed by brief description of an issue 213A Off Proc June 12 Jones, Lee B3 cannot print

Attach a file(s) if needed. Screen shots of a problem speed up problem resolution time process

Emails that do not follow the format above and business email etiquette will be rejected

Sources 

Office Procedures for 21st Century by S. Burton and N. Shelton

Business Email Etiquette  

Business Email Etiquette

Business Email Etiquette  

Business Email Etiquette