E-mail etiquette is one of the most common concerns that I hear from students who are entering into the civilian work-force. Often apprehensions about tone, language, timing and mistakes make all of us uneasy when drafting e-mails. I often find myself spending more time on one or two sentences in an e-mail than on one-page briefs and other lengthy documents. Luckily, Google Exec Eric Schmidt has taken the time to provide 9 rules for e-mailing. Schmidt’s advice in this column provides clear rules that will ease your anxiety when drafting and sending e-mails.
In addition to Schmidt’s 9 rules of e-mailing, you should consider the following:
- E-mails are permanent – Unlike phone calls and casual conversations, e-mails last forever and you should really consider this before clicking the send button. From minor typos to choices of infliction, make sure you are comfortable with your e-mail before etching it in “cyber-stone”. For important e-mails, I read them two to three times before sending to prevent typos and to exclude unnecessary text. Less is more in most cases.
- Choose an effective subject – We are all busy at times, and subjects are an efficient way to convey a message. Use of urgent, and response needed should not be overused, but can provide a timely response if needed. Try to capture a summary of your e-mail in a 3-4 word subject line.
- Eliminate areas of interpretation – Wherever possible, remove areas that can be interpreted in different ways. Your intent may be interpreted multiple ways, which can lead to mis-communication or mis-understandings that may require additional e-mails or conversations to fix.
E-mailing is a great opportunity to positively impact your perception in the mid of the person(s) you are communicating with. Whether you are e-mailing classmates about an assignment, sending an e-mail to your boss, or simply corresponding with colleagues, keeping your messages action orientated and to the point will ensure your hitting your mark.
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