1. Begin each message with a cordial greeting of some kind… such as Dear…, Hello, or at very least the person’s name, followed by a colon, not a comma. Colons are for business/ professional correspondence and commas are for social/casual correspondence. At the end, always sign your first and last name to each message, especially in business. In fact, configure an auto “signature” into your system which will contain all important contact information (including your name, address, telephone and fax numbers, and a repeat of your email address).
2. Always re-read messages before sending them. Do not transmit messages the moment you write them. Instead, during any one email session, draft all messages and replies; place them in the “out box”; then re-read each message, use spell check before transmitting the entire group of messages.
3. Always make reference to the subject matter about which you are responding. With the multitudes of email messages we get daily, nothing is worse than to receive a cryptic reply, with no opening greeting, no name at the end, not previous message attached, just an O.K., I agree, Do it! …
4. Use the Copy and Paste feature to forward messages rather than as an attachment to the message. Except when messages are within the same known company or group, not everyone on e-mail has the same platform applications and programs, allowing each person to easily open and read files. By taking the few seconds to first copy and paste the message, it will save valuable time and effort in having to retransmit what might have been important information again at a later time.
5. Review the trail of previous messages when using the “Reply To” feature to compose new messages. A) make sure they are still relevant to the current subject listed; B) all unrelated text is to be deleted before sending a new message on a new subject; C) Type a new subject line; D) Keep only an average of two previous sets of messages at a time, is necessary.
6. When sending group messages, especially to recipients who all do not even know each other, DO NOT send batch messages using the “To” option. Instead, use the “bcc:” blind copy option to send each person the message individually. This way it will avoid: A) everyone seeing your long list of recipients; B) everyone having full access to your valuable and private mailing list … for free; and C) unknown and undesired people having access to private information of individuals who may not want it broadcast. Last, do not send replies to the entire group, unless specifically instructed.
7. Know your e-pals. Not all systems have the same ability to read the same fonts, indents, bold lettering, centering, italics, and the like … results being: A) the recipient might not receive the message at all; B) it may be received without any formatting in one long string of text; or C) it may even show a series of extra and unwanted codes and lines. PCs and Macs still don’t communicate well; and some servers, such as Juno, have been strictly for email messages, with no graphics or attachments possible.
8. Most importantly, especially when communicating with people in and from other cultures and countries, make sure you do not use any abbreviations, slang, and jargon. ALWAYS use proper and courtesy language and grammar, in whole, complete sentences. Be sensitive to how the tone of your message may sound and be received by the other person… by being mindful of the particular words you choose to use and write.
Bottom line: E-mail is a terrific, quick, and easy way to communicate. Nevertheless, we must never forget to use the same care and courtesy in our writings as we would when speaking to someone in person.
by Syndi Seid, Advanced Etiquette