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Email Etiquette

15 June 2021

Email is an effective communication tool but as we continue to adapt to our new ways of working, it’s over use can lead to messages being lost and ultimately can be a barrier to communication. Email is not an instant messaging tool and as such an instant response shouldn’t be expected, as not every role will allow for people to check their email throughout the day. Communicating with email can also create further hours of work depending on your role, and long email threads can be confusing and inefficient. When we are bombarded with too much or irrelevant information, we may simply skim through, making it easy to miss important information.

We’ve pulled together some handy guidelines for communicating effectively through email, we hope you find them handy!

Before sending an email, firstly, ask yourself if you should be sending an email - would a phone call, an IM or a meeting be more effective? Consider who should be included on the email thread. Only use ‘reply all’ if all colleagues on the thread absolutely need to know the information.

Use the ‘To’ field for colleagues that the message directly affects and that you require action from.

If you are expecting someone to do something based on your email they should be in the ‘To’ field.

Use ‘CC’ field to include colleagues that do not need to act or reply, but you need to keep them informed. Remember: When you use ‘Reply All’, all colleagues will get your email response including those ‘CC’d’ on the original email.

Make good use of your subject line as this is what will be seen in an inbox first.

Start with a salutation, it is mannerly and respectful.

Use clear and professional language, do not use text speak, slang, jargon or inappropriate abbreviations.

Consider your tone. Your choice of words, punctuation and capitalisation can be easily misinterpreted without visual or auditory clues.

If you require a response within a particular timeframe, state this in your email. If your query is urgent and requires an immediate response, a phone call is more appropriate.

Proof read your email before you send it. Double-check that the correct attachments are attached.

Include your signature. This allows colleagues to clearly see who you are and where you work. It also gives them your additional contact details in case a follow up is required.

While emails are usually only sent within working hours, some roles may require communication to take place outside of usual hours. Consider using the delay email function where possible. If the query is urgent and requires an immediate response, a phone call might be more appropriate.

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