Today’s generation is all too familiar with email. If you Google Professional email etiquette 89,10,000 results in just 0.45 seconds. Trust me, I just did it to get this number! Fact is that the internet is full of articles, blogs and what not about professional email etiquette. And yet, yet we see emails everyday that make us cringe, laugh, or cry out in sheer horror. Today, I will talk about a few simple lessons I learnt about email!
- It is a well known fact that an average professional spends about one third of their work time on email. Organisations are waking up to the reality of email clutter and some like salesforce.com have created and released tools in the market to reduce reliance on email as a tool of communication. I think the idea is to reduce email clutter and leave time for more valuable jobs – like drinking coffee with your team! No honestly, I would rather I team spend less time on email and more time with the people I work with. Getting to know them, the issues and needs they have. And no, I don’t work in HR. I am a sales enablement professional who specialises in sales process automation and CRM. If you want to know more about what I do, you are welcome to get in touch with me via my contact page 🙂 I digressed there. The point is there is too much email clutter. If something can be communicated by picking up a phone and talking or walking over to the other side of the office floor and speaking to someone, don’t send a volley of emails. Speak. You can summarise the discussion later on one email for the record.
- Reply To All needs to be used VERY VERY judiciously. I had an instance where a gentleman was retiring after having served in the organisation for 20 years. He sent his goodbye email to everyone in the local office. He has been a long timer and knew a lot of people. I have no issues about that. The problem began when people starting hitting reply to all with their good luck messages for him. Within a span of 20 minutes, I had over a hundred unread messages from people I had never even heard of before. I wasn’t the only one. Every single person in the office got it. Can you imagine the frustration level on the floor? I guess you can. So only hit reply to all when a large group is added on the email if absolutely necessary. Initiating email discussions and personal messages like the example above must be avoided at every cost.
- Learn to set Out Of Office. Use it whenever you are unavailable, not just on holiday. It is good email etiquette to let people know if you are tied up in day long meetings or working on something important and would not be responding to them right away. Your Out Of Office message needs to say when you would be back very clearly. Also give an alternate contact if you can. The reason for you being away is not necessary. It sure adds clarity bur honestly, I don’t want to know about someone’s bowel movements when they have diarrhea. If you are sick, just say your are on sick leave. If it is your birthday, anniversary, dog’s vaccination, kid’s annual day… just say you are on personal leave. If you are away from email because of travel and will be on a different timezone, be sure to mention that. You don’t want to be woken up at 2 am by a colleague reminding about a report that is due in 3 days!
- I will repeat what I said in my communication post “Slang, SMS lingo and riting lyk dis 4 wrk is a big no-no. You have to ensure that your written communication is error free. Thank God for tools with spell check and grammar check. Software industries created these tools for a reason. Your organisation invested in them for a reason. Use them!”
- No Job Description ever mentions ‘Respond to Email’. Still you are expected to do it. Ensure that you read and respond back to ALL emails.
- Professional email is not for jokes, videos and other forwards. Especially those that are large in size. Some of your colleagues could be travelling in low network zones. The official emails would be held up because you shared a funny video of 12 cats dancing. Not good!