Email Etiquette 101

By: Whitney

Every time I have to send an email I always get a little nervous. I am so worried that something that I say will be misinterpreted and I will either end up unintentionally offending someone or look like a fool. Does anyone else have this problem?

In the world we now live in email has become an essential form of communication whether it be in the work place or in college. I send many emails a day to anywhere from old friends to professors, and it is so important that the email that you send is right for the person receiving the message. Just like in any form of communication there is a lot of room for misunderstandings. The danger of email is that the receiver does not have a chance to see your face or your body language, which in normal conversations is key to understanding messages. So the question is… What can I do to make sure that I am emailing appropriately?

Angela Nielsen posted on Inspired Mag an infographic entitled “Email Etiquette More Than Just Manners.” I found this blog to be very interesting and helpful! It states 15 Tips to better email etiquette. While I am not going to go into great detail on all of them, I want to share the ones that I found to be especially informative.

Email 1

1. Think, write and think again: As I said above, in an email the receiver can not read your body language to assist them in figuring out what you are trying to say. This being said, it is very important to think about what your message is, then write it down. It is also important to think about the message again especially in trying to figure out how the message is going to be received on the other end.

Email 2

2. Use a meaningful subject line: When I first started emailing I hardly ever used the subject line, mostly because I didn’t know what to put in it. I have changed my thinking now and use it every time. If you are emailing a professor, coworker, or boss, it is important to let them know what the message is about otherwise it is likely to be ignored (like the other 6,759 unread emails that often end up in many inboxes). Even if you simply state the class that it is for or the project you are working on is better than just leaving it blank because it gives context to your message before they open it.

Email 3

3. One of the most important topics she brings up is to make sure to proof and spell check your email before you send it. When you send a message that has a lot of misspelled words or bad grammar you are sending a message that you either did not care enough to proof read the message or that you did not learn proper English. Neither of which is a message you want to send to a professor, boss, or coworker. To add to her words, make sure that you do not use abbreviations such as lol or c u there. This is not professional and if you use these short cuts you will not be seen with respect in the professional world.

email 4

4. The final tip I am going to share is take time to reply. Although not all messages need a reply. Even sending a simple thank you back to the sender to let them know that you received the message is always better than leaving the message unanswered.

I know that I have started to pay extra close attention to what I send through email. I make sure to keep in mind that once I send a message, I can’t take back what I said or change the language I used. Email is something you have to do right the first time. So before you send another email, I hope these tips help you in sending an email that is appropriate for your audience, clear, and error free. For the rest of the tips talked about by Angela Nielson visit http://inspiredm.com/email-etiquette/.

Read Whitney’s other posts

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About ellenhatfield

New professional in the field of Student Affairs in Higher Education. I am a Career Counselor at the University of MN Duluth.

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