Friday, May 13, 2011

Email etiquette - A little rant

I don't know about you, but I get too much email.  Spam filtering is great, but it doesn't save me from some of the other nonsense that floats around.  Here are my tips for email and email formatting.  I get a little cranky about this so please pardon my rant. Your mileage may vary....

Email volume
Don't be a slave to your email.  It really should not be for real time communication.  That is what the telephone and in-person visits are for.  Try checking your email only a few times a day.  Tell those you work with that you will check first thing in the morning and early afternoon.  Beyond that, turn the bloody thing off.  At a minimum turn off the notifications you get regarding new mail in your inbox.  You might be amazed by how much time you save.

Reply All
Ok, just knock it off, would you?  Think about it before doing it.  Does everyone really need to see your reply?  Will they care?  Will they be able to take any action as a result?

Using a background image is not appropriate in business email (or for that matter - ever).  It is distracting and can really mess things up when someone replies.  Save the background gimmicks for your webpage or blog.

Signature blocks
By their name, signature blocks are for, well, signatures.  Including canned closing sentences (or for some paragraphs) prior to your signature isn't necessary, and at times annoying.  Put just what you need in the email and leave the canned message out.

Email readers have gotten better, but images embedded in an email are still problematic.  Office email is generally not the place for building brand awareness.  Does it add value when communicating to your customers?  Maybe but I question the value add.

Oh, and all those silly fonts and sizes.  It does say something about you when you send email to me using Comic Sans in 18pt font.  The impression isn't a positive one.  Use the standard font and size for your messages.  By the way, nobody is fooled by the Script font in your signature.  Keep it simple and use those creative thoughts and ideas to innovate.

ALL CAPS - Really??
If you need to shout at me, stop by and shout.  I am ok with that.  Don't run the risk of insighting the crowd by using ALL CAPS.

Getting the last word
It is not necessary to always reply to an email.  If the reply is simply an acknowledgment, think about the recipient.  Will a reply add value?  If not, don't send it.  It will be one less email that someone has to open and then probably also send an acknowledgment.

Using Bcc
The blind copy can be useful but more often than not can have evil under tones.  If you don't want people to know who else you sent an email to, maybe your motives are wrong and you should reconsider your actions.

Email ping-pong
After a few volleys of email back and forth, pick up the phone or walk over to discuss it.  Stop hiding behind the email and work it out directly. 

It is for FYI, not CYA
Think about the purpose of your email before sending it.  Are you providing information that is useful or only covering your tracks for when things go wrong?   If I am taking time to read an email I want to get useful information.  The CYA stuff only serves to hurt the senders credibility.  Don't do it.

1 comment:

  1. Nice job on the blog Mark - I like it. You have a future in journalism.

    One other thing that I feel people can improve upon when writing/reading email: Don't use email when the content of your message is emotional or upsetting. Go speak to the person instead. Also, when reading email don't read emotions into the email. I have seen many some very factually oriented email taken as a personal afront. When in doubt check-in with the other person face to face.

    Jim P