A Dozen Guidelines for Using E-Mail

Written by promotiondept

September 18, 2018



Last Updated: Jun 19, 2018
Email is one of the most-used ways of communicating in business, but everyone knows how to use it correly. Here are 12 e-mail guidelines that will improve your communications.

In most of the seminars I condu for corporations and associations, I reserve time to talk about e-mail. Why? Be e-mail has become one of our most prominent means of internal and external communication. And guess what… our system did come with a list of etiquette guidelines. So I offer these twelve tips:

“But,” you protest, “I erased it after I read it or sent it.” Yet a computer eraser is like a pencil eraser. Those words haven’t disappeared entirely. Just ask Bill Gates. He thought that e-mails about his rival Netscape were gone–until government ers found them and used them in an antitrust case. My advice: “Put hing in e-mail that you wouldn’t put on an Interstate highway billboard.”

“Bill,” somebody says by phone, “guess you got my e-mail last week.” I say that I didn’t. “Now wait. . .it shows up on my SENT list.” Even so, those words never landed on my screen. For your most vital mess, then, request confirmation of receipt.

Be some associates answer our e-mails within five minutes, we get spoiled. As a result, when others go a day or two without writing back, we feel snubbed. Remember, though, that people attend meetings, have appointments, travel and take days off. Anticipate the resulting delays.

A few months ago I mailed an article to an editor. In the old style of corresponding, he would have sent a five paragraph letter to respond. Using e-mail instead, he replied: “Got everything fine.” What an appealing of words!

A warning: No sloppiness is allowed. We need to spell correly and use acceptable grammar. As the editor illustrated in responding to me, complete sentences are required, though. Agreed?

With e-mail, we don’t have the advant of facial expression, tone of voice or a friendly pat on the back. In person, you can get a laugh from “Betty, when are you going to learn to type with both hands?” In print, beware the reaion. Even the smiley-face sign may prompt the lighthearted mood you are trying to create. So when in doubt, leave the humor out.

Reprimands come across much more harshly in print than when spoken. Often this leads to a war of “nastygrams” (a delightful term borrowed from a public relations expert).

Unfortunately, for some manrs e-mail has created a new channel for “zapping” employees. Supervisors write what they don’t have the cour to say in person. The cure: Reserve negative appraisals for face-to-face dialogue.

When e-mail first entered the workplace, this was my biggest fear. Those staff members who had become invisible by taking refuge in endless meetings added to their inaccessibility by resorting to e-mail entirely.

In one large company, the CEO iced the trend. Wisely, he sent a ice (by e-mail, I suppose) that beginning the next day no one could send internal e-mails between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. If they had something to say during that span, they would go find the target person and tell him or her.

I failed on this once, so I know the unhappy consequences. Strange, but when you are writing about someone, they’re on your mind so much that you can inadvertently address the e-mail to them. As a safeguard, check the recipient’s name just before you hit the SEND button.

It’s weird that only one-third of n corporations do that. Then they wonder why employees play Solitaire, shop and send lists of jokes. Prevent these time-wasters by giving training classes and distributing written guidelines. I have helped clients establish these safeguards.

Spamming means sending unsolicited, annoying e-mails. I am sure you don’t want to do that. You can get permanently blisted by clients and prospes if you e-mail them without permission.

For example, mine provides conta information, along with links to my blog and Web site. Luckily, I have a system–Eudora Pro–that allows me to use the formal signature or exclude it.

The title is the “teaser” that can increase your s of readership. Avoid “cutesy” titles that smack of advertising. Keep your title brief enough to fit the title line.

Try these dozen guidelines for using e-mail. Share them with your staff and employees. Soon your workplace communication will improve iceably.

Bill Lampton, Ph.D., Communication Consultant, Speech Coach, and Keye Speaker, “Helping Corporations and Leaders Communicate Persuasively.” Call Dr. Lampton: 678-316-4300 or visit his website: http://www.bizcommunicationguy.com

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