Cofrin Park

Cofrin Park
Cofrin Nature Park

Monday, January 9, 2012

Email Ettiquite: 10 Suggestions for Happy Emailing

My law partner sister requested this post on email etiquette. Seems we’ve noticed that some emails get angry comments or replies from certain email participants. For example, I thought my email request perfectly kind and gentle, giving several possible choices for performance, as requested by the recipient. The reply was an angry email, full of drama and whining. I reread my email and had others proof it. It was fine; however, the recipient reacted rather than responded.


My sis says that emails bombard people all day long. Emails intrude upon you when you least expect it, sabotaging your work flow, begging for response. No wonder you want to scream back in defense.

Sis says she tries to be as neutral and sweet as words allow, in writing her emails. She also advises that, when composing your email, "write as though it will be offered as evidence in a court of law." Well said, counselor.

I have listed some suggestions for polite and productive email etiquette:

1. Write emails sparingly. Would a call suffice? A walk over to the person’s office for a chat?

2. Be mindful of short attention spans concerning email, and use short sentences. Keep email to fewer than 3 paragraphs (as appropriate.)

3. Do not make requests or demands unless the other party expects it. When making demands or requests, keep it to one per email—do not bombard the other person with several requests or demands at once. Overwhelm causes system shut-downs.

4. When making a request or demand, give a time-line and specific instructions, ensuring that a kindergartner could follow them.

5. Provide for efficient feedback and follow through to the letter.

6. Follow proper sentence structure, syntax, word choice and grammar. Emails, even to someone you know, should respect the language, which in turn, honors the recipient. How many times have you tried to figure out someone else’s shorthand, and weird made up words, only to lose the meaning? No one wants to decipher what you are trying to say, so say it with clarity, or communication ends.

7. When emailing to elicit a response or action from the other party, do so with grace and humility. Adopt that attitude, and make sure it comes across in the email.

8. Acknowledge the efforts and time the other party must put into responding to your email. Show appreciation, and the recipient will feel appreciated and be more likely to respond and act efficiently and effectively.

9. Offer some sort of motivation or “thank you” gift, if appropriate, like taking them to lunch or returning a favor.

10. Finally, have fun with email—it’s a great way to communicate with most everyone, especially when you need something in writing or to clarify things that were discussed over the phone or in person. Keep it personal and direct—no forwarding chain emails please!

Happy Emailing to All!

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