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October 2005 - Email Etiquette—Part 1

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John Kline, PhD, inspirational and motivational keynote and after-dinner speaker and corporate trainer.October 2005

Email Etiquette—Part 1

When I teach seminars and workshops on writing, people often ask questions about mail etiquette. Here are seven tips. I will present more in the next two columns.

  1. Be concise and to the point. If not, you waste the time of others and run the risk they won’t take time to read your message. When possible, give the answer in the subject line, and then provide additional information in the text.
  2. Use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation.  You insult readers by sending messages with errors. Besides, your e-mail may be forwarded to others. Run spelling and grammar checks on everything you write.
  3. Answer e-mails swiftly, even if you must do it briefly. A quick response shows people they are important to you. Furthermore it’s usually more efficient to keep up with your inbox rather than fall behind.
  4. Answer all questions; preempt further questions. Save time and keep the reader focused by anticipating further questions and taking the initiative to answer them before they are asked. This practice saves time needed to read and write further e-mails.
  5. Use templates for frequently used responses. Using an existing message where you “plug in” specific information saves you time. Make certain not to leave leftover reminders such as names or dates that indicate you are working from a template.
  6. Generally include the message thread or related messages in a response. This practice allows readers to easily see what generated the response and allows them to easily refer to earlier messages, if necessary.
  7. Don’t overuse “Reply to All,” “Urgent” or “Important.” If you do, you will be like the little boy who hollered, “wolf, wolf” too many times.  When the wolf finally came, no one believed him.

To be continued

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

October 2005 - Email Etiquette—Part 1
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