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The Etiquette of Business Email

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Here at AccelaWork, we like to talk about email productivity. And though the subject matter is easy to discuss since it’s a main source of communication in business, we focus our attention on it more often than not because it can seriously effect workflow and productivity in the office.

Robby Slaughter, founder and principal of AccelaWork, was given the opportunity to express his thoughts on the topic of email productivity on The Work Buzz blog. In the article 7 Tips for improving email etiquette, Slaughter and a few other industry experts relayed their thoughts on common mistakes and inefficiencies that can inhibit productive communication when it comes to email.

Indianapolis consultants sharing emailing tips

© Flickr user andronicusmax

Below are some selected quotes from the list of the Do’s and Don’ts of email etiquette:


Be concise: “Email is intended for short, informational messages,” says Jodi R. R. Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting in Marblehead . . .“Keep in mind that with some email systems it is possible for the recipient to read just the first three lines of your message without ever opening the email. Make the first couple lines count.”

Double check: “Never, ever skip the spell check and double check the word is not changed to a word you did not intend to use,” says Diane Gottsman, owner of The Protocol School of Texas . . . “Spell check is not foolproof if it picks up a word that it ‘thinks’ you mean.”

Be professional: “Treat email like a professional correspondence, because it is. It’s the only communication most executives see and you will be judged accordingly,” Gottsman says. That means spelling out words in their entirety (no “U,” “LOL,” etc.), using correct capitalization and including an email signature with your contact information.

Be pleasant: You probably know from experience that it’s hard to tell whether someone is being sarcastic or serious via email. “Watch not only what you say, but how you say it,” Smith says. “Using all capital letters is considered yelling.” The same goes for sentences with excessive punctuation — ending a sentence with “!!!” or “???” will just make you seem angry.

Similarly, suggests Robby Slaughter, owner of AccelaWork, a business productivity firm based in Indianapolis, start your email off with a friendly greeting, not an order. “The word ‘hello’ followed by the name of the recipient does wonders in ensuring your email is well received and actually read,” he says.


Avoid face-to-face conversation: Sometimes, it’s just easier and more effective to walk into your boss’s office, or pick up the phone and call your customer. “Remember this rule: Email is more for coordination than it is for communication,” Slaughter says. If you have a lengthy project or proposal to discuss, schedule time to talk to the person face-to-face or over the phone.

Similarly, email shouldn’t be used to resolve conflict, or as a method of avoiding confrontation. “Don’t hide behind your computer,” Smith says. “Don’t use email as a shield to avoid having a conversation or a face-to-face interaction.”

Copy your whole team: “This is like scheduling a pickup from two taxi companies ‘just in case’– you’re wasting almost everyone’s time, and most of the recipients will assume that someone else will answer,” Slaughter says.

Send an email when you’re angry: In the heat of an angry moment, it is way too easy to fire off a scathing email full of things you’d never actually say to someone’s face. “Wait until you cool off before putting something down in writing,” Gottsman says.

There’s no doubt that email can be overwhelming, but it truly doesn’t have to be. By utilizing it in the right manner, you’ll soon discover how efficient and productive it is. To learn more about effectively managing your email, consider reaching out to the best consultants Indianapolis has to offer.

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