Warning: Protect Your Career With E-Mail EtiquetteWarning: Protect Your Career With E-Mail Etiquette

Mind Your e-Manners--A brief guide to e-mail etiquette for professionals

The average professional in today's fast-paced world sends upwards of 100 e-mails each day. Electronic communication can do wonders in your business: say you need to instantly inform meeting attendees of a last-minute room change, or remind 2,000 clients about an approaching deadline.

Or perhaps you're boarding a plane and have five seconds to jot a quick note to your boss before getting shut down by the flight attendant. Amid the hustle and bustle of business, an e-mail can be extremely efficient. Until you send it to the wrong person, that is. Or forget a critical attachment. Or list the wrong information.

It's inevitable: after the sixtieth or seventieth e-mail of the day, even the superhuman texter starts to lose steam. You might become bored, tired, or overly efficient with your e-mails, cranking them out quickly and cursorily.

Before one response blurs into the next, or you become distracted by other projects, remember that every e-mail you send is a permanent stamp. Your writing skill and style speak volumes about you, and the way you communicate with bosses and clients will shape your success. Your reception is on the line: here's how to make sure an error, miscommunication or discourtesy doesn't unravel your reputation.

Twelve must-read tips for maintaining clear, effective and polished communication:

1. When beginning a new conversation, include a formal address and sign-off, and fill in the subject line appropriately.

2. If you want to command respect and signal that your message is important, stick to basic fonts in 10 or 12 pt font size, with black or blue text.

3. Use standard capitalization rules. Writing in "all caps" tends to convey excitement or anger, while not using capitalization at all can suggest a lack of education or laziness.

4. Use slang and technical jargon conscientiously. Remember to address all the sender's questions--not just the first, last, or easiest one on the list. If you don't have all the answers, acknowledge the questions and say that you'll respond as soon as you can.

5. Out of courtesy to your recipient, acknowledge a delay in response time.

6. If you are replying or forwarding an e-mail and the chain of replies stretches on for ages, consider whether you need to leave all of the information. Sometimes it's good to start fresh!

7. Use the appropriate punctuation and write in complete sentences to help your reader easily glean your meaning, rather than muddling your message.

8. Keep a standard e-mail signature, and include it in the first e-mail of the day--or at least the first e-mail to new correspondents. This makes getting in touch with you by phone or snail mail a breeze, and adds a professional tone.

9. Worse than not using a signature is using an overly animated one. Don't go overboard with colors, font styles, pictures and quotes. Develop one that is noticeable for its stylish simplicity rather than its garishness.

10. Make sure the subject line is indicative of the current subject. Always fill in the subject line, or the e-mail may be confused with other e-mails or go entirely unnoticed.

11. Be aware of the emotion your e-mail is conveying. Are you too informal and friendly? Are you eerily deadpan? And of course, consider your audience:

Casual - friends and familiar coworkers
Semi-formal - long-established clients and colleagues, association members
Formal - new clients, prestigious recipients, your superiors

12. Finally, don't press send until you've read over your e-mail, just to catch those errors not picked up by spell-check!
by Rex Bush, Doctor Of Jurisprudence, Attorney At Law
References and Bibliography
Rex Bush handles personal injury cases in Utah. For info on injury issues visit his website: Personal Injury Utah. Need a wrongful death lawyer? Visit this page: Utah Wrongful Death Lawyer.
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