When e-mail first came on the business scene, it was all we could do to grasp the basics of the new technology. It was scary stuff. Now that we have been at it for more than a few years, most people have mastered the technical aspects of this part of online communication. Sadly, there are still far too many who haven’t come to terms with the etiquette of e-mail and the rules for the wireless.
Careless use of e-mail can cost you clients, colleagues, jobs and opportunities. A cavalier approach to communicating on line can affect productivity and profitability. That is why I am asked frequently to incorporate email into my business etiquette courses. An individual or organization that ignores the need for training on this topic may soon find themselves at the back of the pack.
Think of the disruption an e-mail sent in anger can create in the office. One employee is annoyed by the actions of another and decides to slam that person in a message sent out to his co-workers. An office war breaks out. A confidential message is forwarded without permission. Feelings are hurt and trust is lost. Not enough thought was given to the words that were used and an e-mail was misinterpreted. Valuable time was spent trying to smooth things over. An introductory letter was sent to potential clients using their first names. Business was lost because more than half the people on the list were offended.
The first article I wrote about e-mail etiquette in business was titled, “Twelve E-mail Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Career.” We are way beyond twelve. The wireless world has rules and the list is growing.
Consider this—most e-mail errors are caused by emotion, fatigue and haste. If you feel the need to write your message while in any of these states, do so. However, compose it in a Word document, not in your e-mail program. Let it sit for several hours or better yet, leave it overnight. When you come back to it later, your feelings may have changed. If you wrote it in anger, you may have cooled off or now see things from a different perspective. You might decide to delete the document or revise your approach. If you created a message when you were tired, you will probably find errors that you missed earlier. If you were in a hurry, you will most likely want to make changes and corrections to the original.
The best approach to dealing with e-mail when you are not at your best, is simply to wait until you are feeling better or have more time. Unless you are replying to a message marked urgent, there is no need to send an instant response. Your e-mail is a representation of you personally and professionally. Let it help you build relationships, be more productive and increase your profits.
No business etiquette training is complete without time invested in a discussion of how to write email like a professional.
About The Author
Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette expert, professional speaker, corporate trainer and author of Manners That Sell – Adding The Polish That Builds Profits. She has been quoted or featured in The New York Times, Investors’ Business Daily, Entrepreneur, Inc., Real Simple and Woman’s Day. For more information about her featured presentations and products visit:
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