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Email Etiquette - Time for a Wakeup Call?

We’re all flooded with emails and forced to squeeze so much into our workday. Who can afford the time to worry about how you compose email messages? We have heard all about the importance of effective verbal and written communication skills, but are we making the best use of the skills we have learned?

Nathaly Pinchuk,
Executive Director
It is time for a wakeup call. You and your employees are the “ambassadors” of your organization, regardless of position, seniority or rank. You are the point of contact and a representative for your employer. Most of the recipients may not be familiar with your organization or culture. What does your message say about your organization?

At IPM, I receive an average of 300 emails daily, not including those that are classified as junk mail. My colleagues receive the same volume and must respond in a professional yet courteous manner. With the growing popularity of Blackberry, the number of transmissions will likely increase in the future.

Do our emails and instant messages reflect a good corporate image of our organizations? It’s not a question of the appearance, but the content.

Let’s take a look at “signature lines”. A signature line should contain the desired contact information for the sender with a link and possibly short descriptive or caption about their organization. I am amazed about the number of organizations that include a lengthy commercial or advertorial on their products or services at the bottom of email messages. Who pays attention to them?

Another pet peeve is the motivational message that some people add to their signatures. This is not a “feel good” poster hanging in your office. We don’t need to have Confucius quotes of the week, all we want to see is the message, usually action-related. Why add unnecessary words to clutter the limited space?

We thought we had seen it all until another email arrived in our Inbox from a Blackberry user this month. The sender includes a note on his signature line that this message was sent from his Blackberry (common) and asks readers to overlook minor grammatical errors (not so common). There was one typo found in the one sentence message. That certainly caught my attention, but what message does it convey about the sender or the organization?

Bottom line is that it’s time to review formatting and thought process for your corporate emails as well as those of your employees. Also, there is no law against sending a quick note of thanks when you get the response you requested. The words “please” and “thank you” don’t take up excessive space and may give the recipient a positive impression about the way you and your organization operate. Whether contacting a colleague, associate, senior executive, supplier or vendor, you’ll be surprised at how much quicker you’ll get answers from the parties involved in the future by using basic etiquette, while still remaining professional yet concise!


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