Have you ever been frustrated by poor communication or etiquette? Email etiquette is especially frustrating to me, especially with the number of places and ways that email is used in my (and Alyssa’s) lives. I go through a few hundred emails a day easily, between work, personal, consulting, and other things we help out with. Alyssa’s job also involved a large portion of email use, as well. And across all of these different uses, we have started talking more and more about the poor etiquette that is so prevalent.
I used to think it was just me that was bothered by bad email etiquette. But as it turns out, I’m not alone! We asked what types of things bother people with email, and we were a little surprised by the responses! Here are our responses to the feedback we got over on Instagram!
Ever received a forwarded email chain, with the text at the top simply stating “FYI”? No explanation, no summary, no nothing. Now, you have to scroll through an entire conversation (usually in reverse) and try to figure out what they want you to know from the emails passed along.
Better etiquette would be to provide a (super brief) summary of the info you are passing along, and why. For example, forwarding a chain of emails with instructions on a new process for bringing on new clients. “FYI, please see the updated onboarding process below and reach out to Jim with any questions or concerns. Thank you!” Now, they know exactly what to expect in the emails, what to pay attention to, and who to contact if they don’t understand anything. This shows the recipient you value their time, and equips them to read and move on quickly!
Proper Greeting and Signature
This is a personal pet peeve of mine – emails with absolutely no greeting or signature. Just a statement, question, or information. Take the extra few seconds to address the person you are contacting with a short greeting, depending on the context.
If you know the person you’re emailing, a simple “Hi Jim,” works great. If emailing a group of people or a helpdesk-type email, a short “Hello,” or “Hi all,” is perfect.
To conclude, be sure to leave off with what you are looking for next, and any info they need. If an issue has been resolved, be sure to thank them genuinely! If you still need help, still be thankful. “Thanks in advance!” or “I appreciate any help you can provide” is just fine. And at a minimum, you should have your name at the end of the email, if not an email address or phone number to reach you as well!
What do you want?!
This happens especially frequently in my job, as we receive support inquiries via email all the time. “I have a question about how your product works.” That’s all it says. What am I supposed to do with that?
Be sure to leave any necessary details to describe what you are looking for. Are you hoping to speak with someone on the phone about a specific issue? Give them enough identifying information or details so that they can prepare to call you and have your account etc pulled up. This will save you time on the phone, and help them assist you even better.
It’s also great etiquette to state plainly what you are looking for. If you are looking for an email response, or for someone to finish a task for you, then say so! When we read emails, it is tougher to imply what the sender might mean. We don’t get the same facial expressions and non-verbal cues. A lot of times, we don’t even know the person on the other end of the message! Be clear and polite about what you need.
It’s not a text message.
While some abbreviations are a part of email as well, an email is not a text to your bestie. Think of it as a letter, sent on a computer instead of in the mail. I would recommend avoiding unnecessary abbreviations or slang, like “plz” or “thx”. These come across in emails as disingenuous, and feel fake to the receiver.
Another key is to use proper capitalization and full sentences. This might sound a bit elementary, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this! You will be able to communicate more effectively, and come across as more polite. Be especially careful when sending from a phone, as it can easily be overlooked.
What other tips do you have on email etiquette? What bothers you most about the messages you receive?