In virtually every profession, some form of email communication is required. And while this practice is common, some individuals may be more well-versed in email etiquette than others. Still, whether you send 2 or 200 emails per day, everyone could use a refresher when it comes to digital and e-mail etiquette. If this sounds like something you need, here are a few common email faux pas that we all need to correct.
Hitting ‘Reply All’ For a Message Intended for One
The misuse of the dreaded ‘reply all’ button is one of the most common faux pas. While there are instances in which it’s okay, and sometimes even expected, that you reply all, there’s a clear understanding between when it’s okay to use and when it isn’t.
Generally speaking, if your message is directed at one individual and doesn’t require visibility by others included in the sender line, there’s no need to press ‘reply all.’ The reply all feature should be reserved for notes that require visibility of everyone in the email chain. If only more of us practiced this very necessary rule.
Writing Unnecessarily Long Emails
Sometimes there is no getting around a wordy email, but most times there are. Some individuals naturally tend to expand what could be a short, concise, and to the point message into a page-long essay.
To help eliminate the wordiness of these messages, always make sure you are conveying your message in the most straightforward manner. Is it possible to make your point in one sentence vs. three? Think about the last time you received a lengthy email; did you actually read it, or did you immediately groan at its length and skim the message for the main point? Exactly.
Keeping Responses Too Short
While there are emails that can be written too long, there’s nothing more frustrating than when someone sends an incomplete email and the recipient needs to follow up to gain a better understanding of the message. Your goal when emailing shouldn’t be to go back and forth several times with someone, but rather to convey the message in as short of an exchange as possible.
While you do want to eliminate wordiness, you don’t want to do so to the detriment of the message. Keep it short, but still make sure your thought is complete and as detailed as necessary.
Including Too Many Senders
Occasionally, looping in an individual’s manager on a matter is necessary. However, it’s not always necessary. In fact, most times it’s completely unnecessary. This one boils down to judgment, but generally speaking, if you’re dealing with a situation that can be handled between you and the recipient, there’s no need to loop in the higher-ups.
Keeping Subject Lines Too Vague
An inbox, for many, is an itemized to-do list. When an individual sends an email with a non-descriptive subject, this adds another step to the recipient’s workflow and process, as the recipient now needs to open and read the email for the ask, rather than simply scanning the subject line to discern importance. It’s a small issue, but when in doubt, “Hey,” isn’t an acceptable subject line.
Using The Caps Lock Button in Subject Lines
Additionally, when writing your subject line, you should be sure to avoid utilizing the caps lock as a completely capitalized subject is anxiety-inducing for most people. Title Case capitalization is ideal and won’t fill the recipient with dread when it makes its way into their inbox.
Lacking Conversational Elements
Finally, there is always a perceived tone with email communications. It’s one of the digital imperfections we deal with on a daily basis. With this being said, there is a way to ensure your tone is perceived as friendly, which is to simply write your emails in a conversational tone.
It’s a good rule of thumb to begin your messages with a friendly greeting and wrap them up with a kind thank you, just as you would if you were speaking to this person face-to-face.
“Hi Allen! Can you please send me a copy of today’s agenda? Thanks, Elizabeth,” reads much better in an inbox than “Can you send me a copy of today’s agenda?” Plus, the friendlier your messaging is, the more likely you are to get a faster response!
Email communications, especially in the age of technology we are currently living in, are a common form of communication, but that’s not to say we are all experts. There are countless email etiquette rules out there, many of which individuals are learning for the first time despite years of experience. Be mindful of these common faux pas to ensure your email communication is as close to perfect as possible.