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Do you have manners?

For centuries parents have been part of a secret society that forces them to teach their children basic manners (etiquette). For instance not to put their elbows on the dinner table or to help elders cross the road. This secret society curriculum has never been updated and not one is teaching basic e-mail etiquette.

Do you have manners?
Do you have manners?

With the fast growing pace of the internet, for many, e-mail communication has become the default form of communication. People of all ages are expected jump in and start using this form of communication and for many this can be quite scary.

Also see: Don’t type at me like that!s

Short, what seemed to be, innocent phrases can affect the way people see you in the corporate world. The opening “hi guys” to a group of Executive Managers can give the impression that you are disrespectful whereas “dear all” would have been perfectly acceptable.


Below are a couple of simple, yet effective, guidelines that you could follow:

  1. Greetings & Closings: Make sure that your e-mail contains a courteous greeting and closing. It helps make the e-mail seem less demanding or tense.
  2. Formality: Address the recipients with a certain level of formality and make sure their names are spelled correctly.
  3. ALL CAPS: DO NOT USE ALL CAPS WHEN WRITING AN E-MAIL TO ANYONE AS IT MAY SEEM LIKE YOUR ARE SHOUTING AT THEM, FURTHERMORE MAKING THE CONTENTS OF THE E-MAIL DIFFICULT TO READ.
  4. Punctuation: Use your punctuation sparsely…!!! Why???? The use of excessive punctuation may come across as being rude!!!
  5. Formatting: Try to keep formatting to a minimum. Excessive use of formatting can become difficult to read and leaves a lot of room for interpretation!
  6. Fonts: Try to stay away from fancy fonts and use the standard fonts available on your computer. There is a risk that your recipient might not have the font in question which means your formatting exercise proved pointless and in most cases might not be compatible on all devices.
  7. Emoticons: If you can try to avoid them completely; however if you do feel the need to use them at least use them sparsely as excessive use of emoticons might leave room for mis-interpretation.
  8. capital letters: try to use the appropriate letter casing, if your entire e-mail uses small caps the recipient might portray it as being lazy or gives the perception of lack of education.
  9. CC + BCC: Try to use them sparsely, if overused you might run the risk of important information being lost.
  10. E-mail response: If you are not able to respond to an important issue at the current time reply to recipient acknowledging the receipt of the e-mail at the same time providing the recipient with a timeframe during which they can expect a response.
  11. Stick to the topic: Do not reply to an old message with a new conversation and if the same e-mail is being used for the same conversation either start a new e-mail with the new topic or take out all of the “old” conversations.
  12. Long sentences: Avoid long sentences. Try to keep each sentence short and to the point. At the same time ensuring that you keep the correct tone and professionalism.
  13. Subject lines: Use meaningful subject lines to ensure that the recipient knows exactly what the e-mail is about allowing them to prioritize their e-mails. Do not use the subject lines of your e-mail to ask the recipient a question or to answer a question.

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