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CAREER

The Do’s and Don’ts of Email Etiquette

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• Work etiquette matters – follow these tips to be polished and professional when writing emails.

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Fun fact: the average office worker receives 121 emails daily, according to research by DMR. Emails are such a big part of our work life that sometimes, we forget they can potentially make or break working relationships and our image. Is it okay to use emojis? Should you hit “reply all”? How should you sign off? Read on for some useful email etiquette tips that will make you look polished, polite and professional.

Before you start writing…

When composing a new email, consider these things before you even start typing.

Do

• Think first. Does what you have to say really require an email, or is it better communicated via another channel? Hint: if your message is going to consist of one word only (like “okay” or “thanks”), don’t send it.

• Keep it organised. Make sure you keep it to one email thread for each subject. It’ll make it much easier to follow the conversation later.

• Use “To”, “Cc” and “Bcc” wisely. Only the main recipients should be in the “To” field. Use “Cc” to keep other relevant individuals updated, and “Bcc” to protect your recipients’ privacy, especially if you have a long mailing list.

• Reply all – except for mass mails. It’s common courtesy to keep everyone involved in the loop, but not the whole company when you just need to respond to one person. Curate your recipient list accordingly.

Don’t

• Just press forward. Check whether the email you’re forwarding contains sensitive or confidential information; if so, edit out anything that should be kept private.

• Wait for too long. For non-urgent emails, replying within 24 hours. Even if you can’t give a full response yet, sending a note to let the sender know you’ve received the message is good etiquette.

• Abuse the “high priority” option. It may be tempting to check the “high priority” box when you want a quick response or draw attention to your note, but unless it’s truly urgent, it may come across as aggressive.

• Follow up too frequently. You don’t want to appear pushy by sending a follow-up email every day ¬– give it a week before reaching out again, then try a phone call instead.

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Up your workplace skills

with tips from The Mag’s CAREER stories.

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While you write…

No detail is too small – take notes of the following to craft the perfect email.

Do

• Make it standard. We’re talking about formatting – use a standard font such as Arial and keep the font size at 10pt or 12pt.

• Greet them properly. “Dear” may sound old-fashioned, but it remains a safe, professional salutation. Otherwise, “Hi” is now the most common and appropriate salutation for less formal situations.

• Write with a purpose. Be clear on the key takeaway of your message, and if you need an action or a reply from the recipient, say so.

• Proofread, proofread, proofread. You may be busy, but it’s better to take a few minutes checking for typos and mistakes, than to recall your message and send another email explaining your error.

Don’t

• Use text-speak, which refers to the language you use in text messages. That means using proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling – write “you” instead of “u”, for instance. And no emojis in any business emails.

• Get emotional. It’s hard to maintain a professional, friendly tone when your emotions are running high – take a break and return to the email when you’re calmer. Don’t shout (i.e. writing in uppercase).

• Forget your attachment. Don’t spam your recipients with emails just because you’ve forgotten to attach the right files.

• Sign off with “Sent from my iPhone”. No one needs to know from which device you’re sending the email – edit the standard signature from your device, and instead, use an appropriate closing, such as “regards” for formal emails or “best” for friendly ones, or “thanks” to show appreciation.

Just like writing business emails, knowing how to give effective presentations is also an essential skill these days – read here for 4 Ways to Deliver a Stellar Virtual Presentation.

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