E-mail has changed how we communicate in business
, and has become the predominant language of corporate culture. It comes with its own set of rules called "netiquette".
In honor of National E-mail Etiquette Month, Pat Stonehouse, one of the foremost authorities on etiquette and protocol offers these guidelines for e-mail usage:
- E-mail isn't private.
Don't say anything in an email that you wouldn't want said on the front page of a newspaper.
- Reply promptly.
Reply within 24 hours, preferably the same working day.
- Forward only necessary documents.
Ask permission if you can forward an e-mail to a third party. Add a note about why you are forwarding.
- Use spell check.
Misspelled words should always be corrected. Spell check will catch misspelled words, but not misused ones. For example; weather and whether.
- Reread twice.
Check the content and tone. Don't use sarcasm and humor that could be misinterpreted. E-mails rely solely on words and don't have the benefit of facial expression or voice infliction.
- Avoid emoticons and abbreviations.
Many people don't know what they mean.
- Avoid sending jokes, chain letters and pornography.
Don't waste other peoples' time and fill up their mail boxes by sending junk e-mail.
- Keep your cool.
Never reply to an e-mail when you are upset. Avoid FLAMING!!!, which is using capitals, exclamation marks and red ink.
- Keep it short.
This is not the time to be a novelist.
- Format correctly.
Business e-mail should contain a salutation, a closing and a signature.
- Use a meaningful subject line.
A subject line often determines when an e-mail gets opened. Make the subject line descriptive and meaningful.
- Reply vs. Reply to all.
Know the difference between the two. Use reply to all only when every single person who was sent the e-mail needs to know your reply.
- Don't get too attached.
Ask permission to send an e-mail attachment and identify the program it was created in.