The topic of email etiquette came up the other day. Seriously, emails are tools we use all the time, but not everyone does it well. Here are the 5 Rules in the story I read plus another one of my own.

Rule 1: Don’t hit “Reply All” unless you really want to reply to all 200 people in the mass email you got. It’s nice to reply to the person who sent it so they know it actually reached at least one of the recipients but you don’t need to let everyone know you got it.

Rule 2: Double check your attachments. Oops! I hate when that happens! Just as we hit the “Send” button we realize we forgot to attach the attachment. So we send a follow up with the attachment attached. Simply adding the attachment as you mention it in the body of the message will usually do the trick. Usually.

Rule 3: Try to reply within 24 hours. Sometimes you get a message and before you can actually answer their question you need to confer with someone else. If it’s going to be longer than 24 hours, or if the person at the other end has indicated there is an urgency, just send a quick reply letting them know that you’re working on it and will get back to them soon.

Rule 4: Make your work emails more formal. I am really guilty of making my work emails fun. Or at least they seem that way to me. That may work if it’s just to the person down the hall and you both know each other well, but if you’re sending something to someone you don’t know well it’s best to keep it professional and somewhat formal.

Rule 5: The fifth point in the story I read was about emailing someone in another country. It’s recommended that you read up on that country’s etiquette rules and follow them as best you can. I honestly do not remember ever emailing someone in another country so that tip may not be very valuable to most of us.

Bonus rule: There was one thing that was left off the list I read and that had to do with signature lines. Seriously, people, if this is a business e-mail account put the information from your business card on your signature. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve gotten a message from someone I didn’t know and there was no signature at all. All I had to go on was their address. When all you know about someone’s name is that it’s a.smith@whatever dot com you really don’t know how to greet them. Sir? Ma’am? I played the passive aggressive card and just said, “Hello, a.smith.” then went on with my message.

OK, there’s my e-mail rant for the week. Maybe next week we’ll discuss group texts.

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