2 Rules for Good Email Etiquette

I literally receive 100s of emails per day; and I say that not to boast. Meeting requests, forwards, Reply-alls, and the messages I actually need to interact with; all these emails flood my inbox and vie for attention. 

But there are two factors that make dealing with email even more difficult; length of a message and a lack of clarity. If your email is longer than this blog post, it's not going to be read in depth. I'll skim it and look for important facts, which may result in missing the actual point of the message. Also, an email may be short but unclear, making it difficult to take action and complete the request.

When you're composing an email,  remember two things:

  • Keep it Short
  • Be Direct
  • Most people don't have time to read a novel in every email. Keep your messages short, only including what's necessary. A five word email is more likely to be answered than a five paragraph email. And don't feel like short emails are "rude." People are busy, and they understand if you don't wax poetically.

    Also, be very direct. If you forward an email with no content or instruction of your own, that can cause confusion and a lack of clarity. Be clear about what you want from the person on the receiving end. If you have a question, put it at the top of the message. If it's a task you're asking them to complete, say please do ___________ or I need you to _________.

    Bottom line, cut out the fluff. Your emails don't need to sound flowery or poetic. If it's the first time your emailing a new client or a contact you've just met, you can have some leniency. Be polite and accessible. But in your work circle, every email should have a remainder of zero; nothing you don't need and the direct question or task at the top.