Whether you have a casual work environment or the most buttoned-up professional workplace, using proper email etiquette is essential for your career and your professional image. Unprofessional email etiquette can make a huge difference in how you are perceived within your company, to your clients, partners, vendors and anyone else you may email for business purposes. Check out these common unprofessional email etiquette landmines that can be avoided with a little attention to detail:
Grammar and Spelling
Modern technology goes a long way in helping us avoid grammar and spelling mistakes. Grammar check and spell check find most glaringly obvious mistakes in this category. However, proofreading your own emails is crucial to finding those hidden mistakes that are so easy to make. Here’s another tip: do your proofreading on the big screen, not your mobile device. It’s easy to overlook errors when you’re only seeing words on a cramped screen. If you run into a grammatical conundrum, take the time to look it up online. Not only will you get it right this time, but you’ll learn for next time too. In these times of grammar correction at our fingertips, errors are unnecessary and inexcusable. Don’t let someone mistake you for being less than brilliant by making spelling and grammar mistakes.
Replying All or Not
Another highly embarrassing mistake is when you reply all to an email that was only necessary for one person. Sometimes its habit and other times complete carelessness. This mistake can anger co-workers by filling their inboxes with irrelevant emails and make you look foolish. On the flip side, if you want everyone to know your response, be sure to reply all to avoid email miscommunications. Also, watch what you forward. Buried deep in an email chain may be information that you didn’t intend to share with others.
Not Being Concise and Direct
Business emails are meant to be informative or directive. As such, it’s important to get to your point and be sure to ask for what you need clearly and concisely. This starts with the subject line, which should reflect exactly what your email is about using only a few words. If you have a lot of information to share, organize your thoughts into paragraphs or sections, use bullets and include attachments if necessary. Use an executive summary at the top of your email to give the bottom line rather than burying your point at the end.
Emotionally Charged Emails
Emailing when you’re angry can cause major problems. You may spit out something that you regret and we all know, emails are forever. Check your emotions before you write an email. If you do feel heated as you’re writing, sit on the email for a few hours and re-read it before sending. Once you’ve had time to cool off, you may find different ways to word your thoughts that are less abrasive and better reflect what you want your professional image to be. Similarly, trying to be funny on email doesn’t always work and can sometimes be misconstrued or come across as goofy. Tone is very difficult to determine via email so keep the joking to in-person conversations and leave email for professional, streamlined communication. Also, don’t over-do it on exclamation points or emoticons that look cheesy and immature.
Being Too Available
When you’re always “on,” mistakes are more likely to happen. This is especially true when you email in the midst of another activity, such as spending time with your family. Typically after hours emailing occurs on a mobile device, which breeds many of email etiquette issues. Unless you are dealing with an urgent situation that requires immediate attention, allow some space between you and your email. This will give you clarity and help you avoid mistakes.
Using a Signature
It’s important to identify yourself with a professional signature. This helps people quickly place you and can be a wonderful branding tool for yourself. Make sure your signature reflects your professional image and is legible. Include all of your relevant contact info and website address but avoid including long quotes that may discredit your professionalism. Auto-signatures are an easy tool to ensure your signature is always attached. Just think, you’re saving yourself tons of time over the course of the hundreds of business emails you may write in a day.