As a Millennial, I can tell you there are many misconceptions that the general public gets wrong about us. The fact that we can’t seem to get it together to write a formal email, though, is not among the wrong list.
I don’t know why I seem to freeze up when I write a work-related email. I have been on the computer since AOL was a thing and your mom picking up the phone would disrupt your connection, making you have to sit through the screeching modem sounds over and over again. I was researching things on the internet before internet research was a common practice. I know my way around the web; I’ve been around that block more than a few times. We even got to sit down and have computer class in my super conservative parochial middle school! Granted, the most we did was check out The Oregon Trail and ball our fists up in tween rage during Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?
While those games were awesome and yes I will play those in the free browser game section any chance I get, they didn’t really teach us how to master online professionalism. And why would they, it’s middle school, right? That’s definitely high school’s job. Except high school was busy showing us how to make PowerPoint presentations, write professional outlines and drafts, and cite sources. It seems someone missed the memo that correspondence is just as important. Isabel McWhorter-Rosen over at Vogue has my back when I say, “Where was our guide to email etiquette?” Luckily, she sat down with Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick the founder of The Etiquette School of New York, to ask her for some pretty important emailing tips. I picked my favorites from her list and laid them out below!
Do be meticulous.
Write, review, repeat. Spelling and grammar are the backbone of formality and professionalism. If you don’t use proper grammar or can’t spell correctly, you’ll look like a complete fool, which leads us to the next point…
Don’t spell names wrong.
The amount of cringe that I get when I don’t review and edit my emails before sending, then spot an error when the receiver responds is something that can’t be explained. Napier-Fitzpatrick provided an example using one of her friend’s blunders:
Thanks so much for your email! It’s great that you’re so enthusiastic about the media industry, but if you can’t spell our editors’ names correctly, I’m not sure you’re ready to intern here yet. I’m not telling you this to be mean, but rather because once you fix that, your enthusiasm will surely get you an opportunity in the future.
Don’t put yourself in this situation!
Do pay attention to your tone.
You can’t really portray tone of voice over an email. That’s something that has gotten my sarcastic self in loads of trouble in the past. Just be straightforward and avoid loading up your sentences with exclamation marks. Also, avoid caps lock, it’s not your friend in this situation.
I feel like this a given, that we shouldn’t even have to list this as a tip, but I can honestly say that I am guilty of this.
Perhaps because we’re used to getting (and ignoring) emails from our parents, or maybe, muses Napier-Fitzpatrick, “millennials aren’t as empathic as other generations. They don’t consider what it would be like if they were on the receiving end of that email, or lack thereof.”
No response definitely comes across as ungrateful, or that the conversation never really mattered in the first place. Always respond, even just to give thanks!