Twenty years ago if someone wanted to put something in writing, they considered their words. They sat down with either a pen and paper, or used their typewriter, and they crafted their message with intention and deliberation.
Today, however, we have email. Email is probably one of the greatest technological advances in communication over the last century. It enables speedy and efficient messenging in a matter of seconds, and is how the world does business.
Enter netiquette. Netiquette is “network etiquette” – the dos and don’ts of online communication.
The increase in informality in email messages has created panic in many businesses. More and more businesses have started implementing professional standards to leverage email communication effectively, cutting out small talk, and facilitating speedy decisions.
Email best practice includes the following:
- Golden rule. Don’t say anything in an email that you would not say face to face
- Company image: Remember your emails impact on the company image
- Personal relationships: There is an impersonal element to email (although email contact is better than no contact)
- Don’t hide behind email and avoid face to face contact: Do not give good, or bad, news via email
- Email is not confidential: Emails can be retrieved, forwarded, examined, and used in a court of law
- Do not overuse group email: ‘Reply all’ should be used conservatively
- Email is tone deaf: It is extremely difficult and tricky to communicate tone in an email, and for it to be understood correctly
- Copying others on your email: The “CC” field is for copying in people who need to stay informed, but do not need to take action.
- Subject line: Make sure your subject line captures the essence of your email
- Don’t make assumptions: Do not assume the recipient knows the background to your situation
- Concise messages: Get to the point
- Be prompt: Reply within 24 hours
- Professionalism: Always use a professional email signature
- Include a disclaimer