10 Rules for Business Email Etiquette

IMG_1000000869

Have you ever received a supposedly professional email before and find out how crude and unprofessional the other party is? How about receiving an email essentially yelling at you for something small? We have all received at least one of those kinds of emails. Has etiquette gone by the wayside with technology? I outline ten rules below of what to do and what NOT to do with email in the business world (and beyond):

  1. DO NOT write an email when you are emotional – This just happened to me last week; a colleague of mine had emailed me, stating some terms of service to me, but essentially wrote the email in a threatening tone. This colleague was just trying to get a point across, but I found the email had no tact (and was terribly rude). The person was probably emotional about something else in life and got triggered by something I had done improperly. I understand; we all get emotional sometimes. But that is when we really SHOULD NOT write any emails, when we are upset, angry, etc. Next time, check your mood before you send out an email to someone; you do not want to come across as hostile.
  2. DO follow up within 24-48 hours with contacts – Nobody likes waiting around for a response to a job application, an interview, a request, and so forth (this is one of my biggest pet peeves). Make it a habit to reply to emails with 1-2 days, even if it’s just to say “No, not interested”. The other party may appreciate just the simple fact that you took time to let them know.
  3. DO NOT use slang or jargon in messages outside of your industry/work – Sure, you might have learned some pretty cool terminology at your previous or current job. Using that terminology outside of your job or industry is pretty pointless though: you may think you are trying to sound smart, but you are just confusing the other party more. Use terms that everyone can understand. Also, use professional writing at all times. You do not want to receive an email that says, “Yo what up?” from your co-worker, do you?
  4. DO spell-check and read over your messages before sending – The email is “just” an email, right? Yes…and no. You are still writing something for someone else to read, and leaving big, ugly typos will not help your cause out at all. Read over your message; even read it out loud if you can. Look for spelling errors not captured by your resident spell-check tool. You do not want to send an email about “the coroner office” to your supervisor.
  5. DO NOT use fancy fonts or formatting – You may think your email editor is super awesome and you want to show the fancy fonts off to your colleagues. Save that for personal emails; fancy fonts and weird formatting will not help you get your point across. At the very least, it will just be annoying for your colleagues to read through the email.
  6. DO break up your email into paragraphs – Should go without saying, but you would be surprised at how many emails we receive that are all words and no break in between thoughts. Nobody wants to read a big long blurb of text on a blog post; who wants to read that in their inbox? Break up topics in your email message so the other party can digest each bite slowly.
  7. DO NOT USE ALL CAPS – See what I did there? And this is another no-brainer/goes-without-saying rule. But there are still people out there who will write all in caps, not realizing they are, in fact, yelling at the other party. Do not be that person.
  8. DO make sure you are sending the email to the right person – There should be a rule to not write any personal messages from an email account primarily used for business…but I realize not everyone wants to check several inboxes. Best alternative–pay attention when your email client auto-guesses who you are sending the email to. You do not want to send an email talking about embarrassing yourself at a business gathering over the weekend to Ted, your supervisor, as opposed to Terri, your sister. Also, if you are copying and pasting a form email to several of your colleagues, make sure to change the name in the salutation so you are not exposing your mass email effort.
  9. DO NOT reply all – Another irksome late 20th century/early 21st century broken rule; unless you are replying all to your friends about a party or a gathering, I highly advise not replying all in a company message. If you are the sender of a mass email, please add people to the BCC line instead of the CC line.
  10. DO keep your emails somewhat short and to-the-point – Yes, there is rule #6 talking about breaking up paragraphs. But this rule is stating that, although your email might run long, make sure the details are supporting what you are requesting/asking for. Do not beat around the bush on a request. Make it short, and, if details ARE necessary, make sure it only makes your case stronger, not weaker.

And there you have it; email etiquette you can apply to both professional and personal usage. If you have other rules you would like to add, feel free to leave a comment below.

Thoughts Upon Unplugging for 24-30 Hours

At home, enjoying the weather last week.
At home, enjoying the weather last week.

After my San Francisco trip earlier this month, I was exhausted: depleted of energy, frustrated with TAOpivot, and annoyed at how little time I had to myself off the computer. I was dragging my feet on meetings, tasks, etc.

So, last Monday evening I decided I would unplug for 24-30 hours. I was also cutting myself off from in-person interactions. All I wanted to do was sit in my apartment with my cat, read, cook, organize my bookshelves, etc.

Just some solitude for myself to rest.

The time unplugged and with no human interaction was just what I needed. I admit, I had not had a true day of unplugging … probably ever. Last December, I was on and off my phone and computer, but not too active. Still, that was not true, 100% unplugging.

It felt great to finally be able to finish some book club selections, rearrange my bookshelves (I notice I have a lot of health, business, and writing books; not enough fiction hmm), just RELAX. Come Wednesday morning, I was reluctant to hop back onto my phone and laptop; I wanted to stay offline for another day or two. But alas, I hopped back on to check emails from clients and connections.

It was only a little difficult for me to not check my phone, but I reminded myself that I was not missing anything. It’s true: I have come across articles lately about how our generation is growing increasingly “afraid” of missing out on social media when out and about. “What am I missing while I am in my meeting? What am I missing while I am on this date?”

I was reprimanded one time by my eldest sister for being on my phone too much. She asked me, “Are you REALLY missing something important by checking your phone every few minutes?” I tried to prove her wrong, but instead I proved her right (this was Thanksgiving 2011). Since this incident, I have been more aware of my habits with my mobile devices; I have made a point to put the phone away during meals with friends/loved ones. Nothing is so important online that I must miss what is happening right in front of me.

Hence, I do want to take my days unplugged more seriously. I want to enjoy my time with my friends and family instead of wallowing away on the Internet. I hope to implement unplugged days about once a week from this point forward.

Daily Post Day 38: Life Without the Internet

I wonder if any of us (who’ve grown up with the Internet) could live without it.

Ask me if I could live without the Internet.

……

Yes and no (I tend to answer this way a lot).

YES, I can live without the Internet because it distracts me to no end to get things done both on/off the computer. If I didn’t have Internet, I would certainly accomplish more tasks and stuff-I-want-to-do than aimlessly surfing the web for random tidbits.

NO, I can’t live without the Internet…for the fact that it keeps me connected to many people who are not physically close by. Text messaging/SMS has become more prevalent in US culture in the past ten years, but I’d rather not be charged money for an international text if I can just easily message a friend online.

Then again, I wonder….if we didn’t have the Internet, would I still even remember some people from my past?

Looking Back and Looking Forward: 2010 + 2011

Circa 2005 at George Mason University

Well, I certainly disappeared for the month of December, but you know how the end of the year goes with the holiday frenzy. I had wanted to participate in National Novel Finishing Month, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be for this month. I added on only 300some words to my February 2009 novel, but I will add more in this next year.

This year in writing has been meaningful to say the least. I attended a few online classes via Gotham Writers’ Workshop to learn a little more about freelancing and blogging (albeit I’ve been in the blogging world for 10-11 years now, but I wanted to see what the instructor could advise upon).

I discovered the world of Fiverr and have landed a few small gigs via that website; have resulted in one customer giving me continuous work for short stories for an ESL class. The pay isn’t much but I have really enjoyed working on my writing as opposed to being stuck at an office as a minion (oh, but really, no offense to my previous employer at all; they are wonderful people there).

I also entered into my first writing contest, perhaps the first ever (I can’t recall whether or not I entered any writing contests in my adolescence). Granted, I didn’t win, but it was still a good experience working through my submission and having local friends critique the piece for me.

For 2011, I will do much more with my writing: complete the two drafts that have been unfinished for 1-2 years now (started those drafts in 2009), read more books (only completed 13 books this year due to the incident from late January), find more clients to write for, and, well, who knows where else I will go with my writing?

In other realms of my life, 2010 taught me a lot and perhaps was a year of enlightenment in more ways than one. 2011 is already shaping up to be another grand year with my entrance into business school and another big move on the way.

As I reflect on my life from this decade, I see I have really come a long way from the teenage years. We all realize this at some point in our lives, but I notice this year has been a huge step for me. Onwards I go into this new year!

(Oh, by the way, I have also created blogs at Tumblr and Posterous. My Tumblr account so far consists of amusing conversation tidbits, the occasional picture, and some poetry. If you are interested in joining me on my “One Word, One Picture” Project for 2011, check out the Posterous site!)

Happy 2011 everyone!

NaNoWriMo Winner & Upcoming Projects

I didn’t think I could manage it, but I did: I finished my manuscript today at 8:09PM PST. I’m a NaNoWriMo winner for the third time! Three out of four years is a great accomplishment. I was more successful with completing the novel this year than last due to more community support (especially in real life). Also, doesn’t hurt to have some competitive spirit.

My opinion on my novel though? It thoroughly sucks. That’s the blunt truth, but I am thankful for having gone through this whole process this year. It taught me that, well, I have matured a lot since I first participated back in 2007, and perhaps I need to plan more for the coming years rather than just wing the plot.

I really cannot believe that the month of November went by so quickly though. For December, I would like to complete the manuscripts for two previous unfinished novels. Then, in 2011, focus on editing and revising all my novels.

All of these plans along with preparing for business school….yes, I am going to be quite busy. But I am enjoying every single moment of my life these days.

(P.S. the3six5 editor position for next December! Preparations are already starting with Skype meetings and such. Exciting!)