I did NOT steal your car!
I didn’t STEAL your car!
I didn’t steal your CAR!
The emphasis you put on different words, can directly influence the meaning. Try it. Read the statements out loud putting in the emphasis. Now imagine you are reading it in an email…
The Importance of Email Etiquette
Every now and then an email exchange goes viral reminding us all that a hastily written email can sometimes come back to bite us. Now that 50% of emails are scanned on our mobile phones, we digest information in a hurry – and a quickly fired off email can have disastrous repercussions. Not only can you damage your personal reputation, but also that of your company with one click.
The danger of the ‘reply all’
If you are replying to just say ‘thanks’ then don’t send it to everyone, you will send out unnecessary emails and people won’t thank you for it. Most people find the number of emails they receive overwhelming – don’t add to the noise. This includes any ‘all staff’ emails asking who has taken your sandwich from the fridge!
When you send an email to the wrong person
The majority of email gaffes are often when a snide comment meant for one person gets sent to the very person it was aimed at. My manager thought she had sent me an email about a dress code crime a team member had committed writing that her shirt ‘should be retired from public life’. Unfortunately, she sent it to the lady herself. It didn’t go well. We would recommend not writing anything you wouldn’t be comfortable with everyone reading. Anything else should be kept for your lunch break.
If you are writing an email in frustration or anger, adding a smiley face to the end of it will not change the tone. Equally, a slip of the keys and you may end up blowing a kiss to your new boss! Keep emojis out of the workplace.
It’s all in the tone
Research shows that people are usually spot on at picking up the tone of an email – but it’s often dialled up. Remember, what you think of as straightforward and to-the-point, someone else may see as brusque and rude. We recommend that you read your message out loud. Be honest, how does it sound?
Asking someone what their plans are for the weekend when you have never met them is probably not a good idea. Particularly if you are dealing with international clients where your message may get lost in a different cultural context, keep your emails formal rather than casual. As a rule of thumb – no abbreviations OMG and avoid cheesy comments – ‘Happy Friday everyone!’
And finally, what’s the worst that could happen?
A London lawyer stood down from his position over an email to his secretary about a £4 dry cleaning bill. In it he demanded payment for his dry-cleaning bill after she accidentally spilled tomato sauce over his suit. Having just returned from her mother’s funeral she copied in 250 colleagues and sent this response:
“I must apologise for not getting back to you straight away but due to my mother’s sudden illness, death and funeral I have more pressing issues than your £4. Having already spoken to and shown your email to various partners, lawyers and trainees, they have kindly offered to do a collection.”
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