“There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say and how we say it”
- Dale Carnegie (1888-1955), An Educator
Often a term “mail” is used to represent “e-mail” in professional practice, communication and documents. Both are being used for message communication, though the former one is exchanged non-digitally bearing address of physical location of its destination, while later one is exchanged electronically- Electronic(e)- mail. So it is important to note the correct term as email whenever it meant to use electronically. Both, email (hyphenated) or e-mail (un-hyphenated) is correct way to write.
Especially when you are part of global organization/company, one may communicate to many co-workers, foreign bodies, etc. through e-mails only and never meet them in person. In this situation, you need to make an impression that you are credible professional that someone sitting overseas can lend his trust and confidence. And you only have one chance to make that first impression. For this to happen, components such as titles, formatting, and text should follow a certain standard so that your message looks succinct, sophisticated and effective.
To: There is handful of associates involved in a discussion but not all of them intended for task to be done. Include email address of only those who are intended to take an action.
Cc (Carbon copy): Use this field to include rest of the people involved in discussion requires being on same page. These business people know each other or have been introduced earlier.
BCc (Blind Carbon copy): Listing an arm length list of e-mail addresses of associates who do not know each other in To or Cc should be avoided. Use BCc when e-mailing a group of contact who do not personally know each other.
Reply to all: Think before using this button if “all” really needs to be addressed. Never use this button to CYA or e-Tattle on a colleague-doing so will overload the inboxes of others unnecessarily.
Assume the highest level of courtesy while addressing first time to any new contact unless new contact states to be called by first name or short name. Eg. Hello Mr. Xxx, Dear Ms. Yyy, Hi Dr. Kxxx Bxxx. Ensure you type the name correctly “John” and not “john” or “Jane”. If you do not know the gender, do not include Mr./Ms. rather write Hi/Hello/dear Kxxx Bxxx
Many times determination to open an e-mail leaves subject line. Subject line should be clear and concise and should indicate clearly what the e-mail is about. Typo, all caps and all small case can lend to unprofessional impression or that you may be spammer.
Formality and Common Courtesy
One should communicate at all times as if you are writing on your company letterhead. This also means using black/ blue standard fonts, no abbreviations. Good Morning, Thank You, Warm Regards, Good Day, Please –all these intros and sign-offs are staple of professional communication. This is your professional image that you are showcasing! Structure the sentence properly and type in full sentence. All capitalization or small case shows lack of business savvy. One should use the proper capitalization and punctuation. Do acknowledge your emails. Sending non-business related e-mails, jokes, forwards or letters using company e-mail address on company time reflects on your lack of professionalism.
Write: Can you please arrange meeting?
Wrong: can u pls arrange MEETING
Main Text and Formatting
Express your opinion/needs/ decision clearly to the point rather than beat around the bush. Think in a way, recipients do have many tasks to complete and writing story in e-mail may create confusion and take a lot of time to read.
Don’t shoot from the lips. Never send an angry email or a flip response rather thoughtful consideration that what you would have replied while you are calmer. Ask permission before posting sensitive material either in the body of the email or in an attachment.
Down editing replies of the previous e-mail chain by removing portion that is no longer apply to your current response.
Don’t overuse exclamation marks. Avoid using bold crimson letters, underlining, and distinct colour of fonts. All CAPITALS do not translate well in business. In fact refrain from using any formatting in day-to day communication. The more formatting and embedded images can cause your e-mail to go in junk/spam folder of recipient.
Attach only if needed. Try to reduce the size of bigger attachments. Never assume that your potential customers have the software that you do to open any file that you send randomly.
Do include your signature
Every email you exchanged shall include signature note that tells who you are and how to contact you. This can be automatically set-up whenever you are starting a new e-mail. Keep it 5-6 lines and in way that you should avoid looking egocentric. Do include e-mail address and URL (http://) if it is available.
E-mail etiquette is an extension of your professional image!
- Nirali Doshi
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