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E-mail and Etiquette or When Your Picture is Made up of Only Words

13. April 2020

It is cheap, fast, reliable, and so it’s gotten under our skin quite quickly and become part of our everyday lives. We are, of course, talking about that little miracle known as e-mail. Like everything, it has its positives as well as its darker aspects. Without accompanying facial gestures and tone of voice, most of us perceive any kind of written communications vial e-mail more negatively than positively. That is why I have decided to put together a set of “etiquette instructions” for using e-mail, collected over the approximately 50 years of experience that this wonder has been on the market.

 

7 basic tips

Take your time before hitting “send”

  • Be careful with the address and subject boxes
  • Be aware of “reply” and “reply all”
  • Correct grammar, spelling and word choice
  • Avoid:
    • abbreviations: LOL, BTW, ASAP
    • emoticons: J L
    • all caps: PÍŠU VÁM…
  • Opening / closing a communication
  • Don’t forget…

 

Take your time

Before you click the “Send” button, it is necessary to read what you have written. If you have the time, wait a few minutes, go back and read the email again with a fresh eye. If you don’t have time, at least check the spelling, grammar and tone of the message. If you are going to send anything late in the evening, keep in mind that with the morning comes wisdom. On the other hand, always try to respond immediately to an email you’ve received. If you reply takes longer than 48 hours, it is better to add an apology.

 

To whom

Be exceptionally careful when entering the address of the recipient. If you aren’t, you may just suffer a fate similar to that of Sara. A friend of hers was getting ready for an interview at the company where she worked. When he sent her an e-mail asking what her boss was like, this is how she replied:

Hi Pete,

                     You met Mr. Kolesk at the “Meet up and talk” event. He was the rude one with a crow’s nest on his head and untucked shirt. Anyway, he is the one who will be interviewing you. Just smile and nod in agreement with everything he says. He loves thinking he’s so incredibly smart. So, when he lays out one of his lame ideas, pretend it’s really super. I know it sounds awful, but once you get to start doing something good here, you’ll find working here is really worthwhile. The boss is the only “problem” I have here, but in the end, it’s worth it. I can’t wait to see you next week. 

                                                             Bye for now,

                                                                                                      Sara

Unfortunately, her boss’s name and was the same as that of her friend, and in her haste, Sara sent the e-mail to her boss instead of to her friend Pete.

 

Subject

Always enter one. It should be the most succinct expression of the contents of the message. The subject is very useful, helping us to become quickly oriented when searching through a large quantity of sent e-mails for one in particular.

 

“Reply” versus “Reply all”

In addition to the fact that it can lead to unknowingly sending a message to those we don’t want to, this bad habit–automatically pressing the “Reply all” button– results in many of us being overwhelmed with unnecessary messages. Only select the “Forward all” button exceptionally. Be sure to clear the original sender information before you press “Forward” and fill in the “To” field. If you are replying to a message where the subject of the correspondence is changing noticeably, then be sure to update the subject line. Keep in mind that copyrights also apply to emails, so be careful not to send them to other recipients without the permission of the original author.

 

Correct grammar mistakes

Please read the text over at least once before sending it to give yourself room to correct grammatical errors or misspellings. In the future, these could not only create a picture of you as an uneducated illiterate, but also become a source of potential misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the shared information. Do not use diacritical marks to avoid creating an unintelligible text because of different formatting on the part of the recipient.

 

Learn Internet Abbreviations (acronyms)

Although I advise avoiding them, it is necessary to be familiar with common acronyms, because today they are everywhere in electronic communication.

The most frequently used abbreviations include:

BTW – By the way

TTYL – Talk to you later

LOL – Laughing out loud

ROTFL – Rolling on the floor laughing

FWIW – For what it’s worth

POV – Point of view

B/C – Because

AYOR – At your own risk

B4N – Bye for now

DH – Dear Husband

DF – Dear Friend

EML – e-mail later

JK – Just kidding

SFW – Safe for work

TYVM – Thank you very much

AFAIK – As far as I know

IIRC – If I remember correctly

EOM – End of message

C&P – Copy and paste

HTH – Hope to help

NNTR – No need to reply

ICYMI – In case you missed it

FYI – For your informationI

MHO – In my honest opinion

IMO – In my opinion

BCNU – Be seeing you

ASAP – As soon as possible

OIS – Oh, I see

TIA – Thanks in advance

WAYTA – What are you talking about

 

Emoticons 

These are three-character symbols that express the mood of the writer. Their creator is allegedly Scott Fahlman, a computer engineer at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Brief electronic communication did not allow him to simply express his emotions and sarcasm, so he suggested using symbols J and 🙁 on September 19, 1982, and since then, almost everybody has been using them. I would, however, recommend thinking it over carefully before using them in business communications. Not every nation has the same view of humor, and their misuse could unnecessarily deprive you of an interesting business case.

 

Do not use all caps or even exclamation points  

Avoid capital letters and exclamation points. Some people believe that capitalization will make reading easier, but in fact, the opposite is the case. Not only are they difficult to read, but your message ultimately comes across as aggressive. The urgency of the matter must emerge naturally from the text. The use of exclamation points is also not an appropriate tactic.

 

Greeting

The proper from of address follows the same rules as in the case of a letter. We address our acquaintances by name; in business e-mails, we keep to the formal form of address. We use a familiar form of address only for those we know in person. Whenever you are unsure, choose a formal address. If you are addressing one, two, or three people, address them on behalf of each, such as “Dear Martino, Charles, and Jano.” When addressing a larger group, use the phrase “Dear Sirs”.

 

Closing correspondence 

Today, the electronic signature is used widely. It should not be more than 4–6 lines. Keep in mind that people will go by the way you sign yourself when they reply to your e-mail.

 

DON’T FORGET…

Be polite

Keep in mind that even though only the lines speak for you, it is still you and they are precisely how you will be perceived. So always be kind and courteous. Don’t forget words like “please” and “thank you”. In public forums, show respect for the opinions of others, even if you often disagree with them.

Be brief

Use email for brief “who, what, when and where” messages. Most of us use the Internet to save time, so let’s keep that in mind and be brief. If you have a lot to say, try splitting your entire message into smaller themes. This will make you more systematic and allow the reader to perceive the information you have communicated more clearly. No message should be longer than 20 lines.

Avoid speaking badly of others

Never publish anything negative about the company where you work or have worked at, about your boss or our co-workers. You never know where the e-mail will end up once you hit “send”.

Avoid bullying

Before sending any kind of criticism, think about how you would feel if someone said the same about you. Cyberbullying can lead to catastrophe if you happen to catch the person in question in a weak moment.

Be discreet 

Remember that anything you put on the Internet can be there forever. Even if you delete the material, someone may have taken a screenshot, copied or saved it. One of the other rules to follow is never to post anything that you would not want your boss or anyone in your family to read.

Protect your personal information

Since anything you post online is available to everyone, avoid adding your personal information, such as your address, phone number, identity card or driver’s license information. You do not want to facilitate thieves or predators in their intentions.

Protect your children 

If you allow your children to access the Internet, make sure you know what sites they are visiting, who they are “friends” with, and who they are talking about. Monitor their correspondence if possible. You should make sure that they are not sending anything to anyone that might prevent them from developing their professional careers in the future. Take the time and explain carefully what can happen if you are not careful about email communication.

Do not send bad news via e-mail

Instead, pick up the phone or visit the recipient concerned in person, and also if e-mail or chat communications are becoming tense, artificial or simply getting out of control.

Send hand-written thank-you cards rather than e-mail

Especially for gifts, invitations to important social events, unusual help, etc.

 

And now I have no choice but to thank you for reading my blog all the way to the end…

Thank you very much for your time and interest in etiquette.