Workplace Email Etiquette -- 6 Simple Steps

Fatimah Gilliam Founder, and CEO The Azara Group

February 01, 2016

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All of us have been there. Either we sent an email that was not as polished as it should have been or we received one that made us roll our eyes. When sending emails, think of this as another opportunity to establish your brand and reputation. You want to be seen as credible, having good judgment, and professional.

Here are six simple tips that can help you shine with clients and colleagues.

1. Keep it Professional

Remember when emailing from your work account, you need to keep your communications professional. You represent the company, and what you put out there reflects back on your professionalism. While this sounds basic, people slip up all the time. The Sony Pictures hack revealed email unprofessionalism all the way to the top - from racist undertones, inappropriate jokes, and snarky behind-the-back comments to gender inequality with female compensation. This scandal cost people their jobs and may have ruined careers!

Nothing is private when it is on a company's email platform. You should be comfortable with whatever you put out there. If you would be embarrassed or ashamed if it were on the news, then you need to revise or trash your drafted email.

Keep the gossip and colorful comments to a minimum. Use proper English, fix your typos, proof read every email, and use bullet points so key information is easy to read. Before sending what seems like a harmless joke, think twice. A lot can be lost in email translation.

2. Write a Cover Message When Forwarding Messages

The last thing someone wants in their inbox is a long email thread forwarded to them without any context. People are busy and may not have been in the trenches with you on a particular issue. Make life easier for others and not more complicated. Don't make colleagues feel like they are doing your job for you or handholding you through the day.

Write a simple explanation before passing along an email. People will be grateful for the quick summary of the salient points, why you are passing it along, and how it involves them.

3. No Need to Always Reply All

Just because other people are copied on an email does not mean they all need to get your reply. Think about whether that person needs to be included or if you are just going to clog their inbox. Everyone spends so much time reading and responding to emails, the fewer they get, the happier they will be.

Also, you do not want to be branded as having poor judgment. Before you press send and reply all, ask yourself if everyone really needs to get the message. If not, start removing recipients.

4. Consolidate Your Messages

We all get emails from someone who sends a message... then another... and then another before you even have a chance to respond. Wouldn't life be easier and less annoying if they just put everything in one email? You should think about if you are one of these culprits. If so, then hold off on sending a barrage of emails.

Limit the volume of what you send and the frequency. Instead, try to consolidate your points into fewer messages.

5. Use Relevant Subject Lines

How hard is it to simply add something in the subject line? Write something brief in the subject line that relates to what is in the email. This can get your email noticed. Some people decide what to read or place on the back burner based on what they think the email covers. Making this a part of your routine helps others manage their emails. Plus, it can help you sort, find, and file away your emails later.

6. Reply! Reply! Reply!

Try to get back to people as quickly as possible. We are all guilty of letting an email sit in our inbox for far too long before getting back to someone. Make a habit of being responsive - even if it is to let someone know that you will have to get back to them later. Keeping someone waiting too long is not only frustrating for others, but gives the impression that you do not value them or your work, have dropped the ball and are not on your game.

At the end of the day, others will perceive you as being more helpful and professional when you are more thoughtful and strategic with your work emails. Incorporating these six simple email habits into your daily practice can improve your reputation. These tips can also help you develop strong relationships with clients and colleagues.

Just remember to consider what someone experiences on the other end of your emails. Their experience will help guide you in making better email decisions.

Author's Bio:

The Azara Group (TAG) is a consulting firm that promotes the development of leaders in an increasingly competitive and diverse marketplace - providing strategy consulting services and leadership training services to advance professional and life success. TAG leverages expertise in career strategy, diversity, negotiation skills, and business acumen to provide strategic advice and consulting services to help people and organizations get what they want, achieve their goals, and advance their business and career objectives. TAG also helps companies better attract, retain, and promote diverse talent, and develop robust diversity platforms and strategies to create a more inclusive workplace.

The Azara Group welcomes your direct comments and feedback. We do not post comments to our site at this time, but we value hearing from our readers. We invite you to share your thoughts with us. You can contact us directly at [email protected].

As part of The Azara Group's monthly newsletter, we select a business leader to share insights about leadership, being an influencer, and career development. Our objective is to help support your ability to flourish as a leader and share what makes people thrive in business.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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