Ignoring workplace email etiquette can have a very high price tag associated with it...it could cost you your career.
Years ago, I was doing some marketing consulting for financial planners to help them grow their business. One of the people I was working with was going to send out a correspondence to his clients about setting up a "business trust" account. He failed to review the message before it went out and, yep you guessed it, it was disastrous.
Instead of the message talking about "business trust" accounts, it read "business thrust" accounts. The results of the message were devastating.
Many of his clients were offended. His reputation that he had built over the years took a shot because of one simple mistake. He had a couple of clients close their accounts with him over it. When he asked them why they were closing their accounts, they responded, "If you are this careless with your messages, then I fear that you are going to be equally careless with my money." One small mistake in his written communication cost him several accounts, a damaged reputation, and a lot of embarrassment.
Still think that business email etiquette is not important? We thought you would see things our way...
Use these strategies to ensure that your email etiquette is top notch:
1. Reread your email before it goes out. If you learned only one thing from the story above it should be this lesson. Make sure the communication you are sending reflects what you want it to. Spell checker won't catch everything. Like the story above, thrust is a real word and spell check would not recognize that it was an error.
2. Do not use all CAPS in your emails. This is perceived as yelling in the digital world. If you need to do emphasis on something, use bold or italics on the points you want to emphasize.
3. If you are sending an email with an attachment, make mention of it in the body of the email. Write in the email that you are sending a report or spreadsheet so that the reader knows there is more to the email than just the text. This also lets them know that if the attachment was forgotten, that they can ask for it. This is proper workplace email etiquette.
4. Avoid abbreviations in your emails. If you use abbreviations, you are assuming that the reader knows what they stand for. They may not be familiar with what the abbreviation means and the message you wanted to convey will get lost as a result. If you must use an abbreviation, then spell out the entire phrase of what the abbreviation stands for, and then put the abbreviation afterwards. This is very true in the global business industry, as different languages put different meanings on words and abbreviations. Spelling out words is very good global business etiquette.
5. Use proper punctuation and start a new line for a new paragraph. Can you believe that the information you learned in English classes is actually useful? There is nothing that bothers me more than receiving an email that does not have any punctuation. It takes me so much longer to read because I have to find out where the period goes, or if a question was asked. It is impolite for the reader and they may not understand what you are trying to say. When I get an email like this, I automatically think that they are uneducated. You do not want people to think the same of you.
Also, start a new paragraph when you are beginning a new thought. Doing so helps the reader keep things separate in their mind. It is just good workplace email etiquette.
6. Be concise and to the point. No one wants to read a novel on an email. They just want the facts. It is good business etiquette to get to the point and stay there.
7. Reply to messages as soon as possible. You do not want to have the reputation of not getting back to people. The unintended message you send people when you do not reply is that they are not important to you, or that you do not care. Either of these reputations you do not need to help you with your career. Early responses show the type of person that you are. Proper workplace email etiquette in responding early will help you build the right kind of reputation.
These workplace email etiquette tips will help you with your communication skills through email. Remember that people are going to form an opinion on you. These strategies will help ensure that the opinion is a positive one.