The email universe is a strange little world, and proper email etiquette is even more confusing sometimes. Most of the stuff that you are writing to another person is probably not the way you would remotely sound or speak in person, and in general tends to sound a little off. But it seems like nothing really we can do about it. It's a great tool to use for everyday purposes and it pretty much gets the point straight across — no BS here, folks. Although how to use this form of communication might seem pretty straightforward, there are actually a few tricks to make your email life easier.
Over the past few years, I've had my fair share of email mishaps: I either came off too harsh, didn't explain myself clearly enough, or I just used too many exclamation points (I don't want to sound too harsh, you know?). The point is, I had to figure out a few ways to be polite and professional by going through a few trial and errors on my own. Of course, I am still not perfect in any way, but I hope that through my mistakes, I am able to help someone that might just be starting out in their career or someone who maybe isn't quite getting the hang of it just yet. So pull out a glass of wine and get your pen and paper ready, we are going to talk about the sexiest thing you could ever imagine: email etiquette.
1. Include A Clear Subject Line
This is the first thing that they are going to see in their inbox. You want to make sure that you are respectively grabbing their attention without the need to use all caps. (No need for yelling, guys!) There are plenty of ways to get the person's attention without all that flashiness. Just be straight forward and to the point as to why you are contacting that individual. Whatever you do, write more than just hello. The person might believe that it is spam, or maybe won't open your email at all. There have been a few times where I just didn't write a subject line, and at the time, I just didn't understand why I never got a response. Now I get it, especially as someone who is on the other end.
2. Use Professional Introductions
Once you completed that first step (woo!), the next thing you need to do is to continue to be professional, especially when it comes to your salutations. Using "heya," "yo", or "sup" is not really the direction you want to go in most cases. The idea is to be direct and professional when you are first emailing someone, especially when you have never met that person face-to-face before. Keep it simple with a "Hi (first name)" or put a Mr. or Mrs. in front of the last name. Also, don't shorten the name or write a nickname, unless you are really friendly with that person. Remember emails, as with any interaction, are essentially all about respect. If a person feels offended, you can bet they won't email you back.
3. Try To Reply To All Emails
This really depends on the person, and there are probably plenty of ways to go around it, but sometimes your life or future depends on an email and it really sucks when you don't receive one back. I have sent out plenty of emails that have simply gone unanswered and because of that, my belief is that I will always try to answer all the emails (depending on the circumstance); I value when someone informs me of what is going on. Even when you are unsure about an answer, the kind thing you can do is just to send a courtesy email explaining to them that you will get back to them, or to at least let them know what exactly is going on. It's like returning a phone call, just a simple one sentence reply is all you need — short and sweet.
4. Proofread Every Message
According to a U.S. News Money article about things you should do before you send an email, references a 2012 McKinsey Global Institute study found that 28 percent of an average work week is spent reading and answering emails. So that's why it feels like we never get anything done. It can seem natural to make mistakes when we are sending all those emails and proofreading might seem elementary, but a lot of people overlook this. Also, don't write emails unless you are fully awake and conscious. I once sent an email when I thought I was awake and I had an unfortunate grammatical error inside the email. Yeah, I didn't hear back from them.
5. Keep Emails Short And To The Point
One of the best ways to be courteous and to receive replies is to keep the emails short and sweet. According to a Huffington Post article, Will Schwalbe, a co-author of Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better, said short emails are "much more respectful of everyone's time." It just makes sense. Nowadays, everyone is looking at emails through their phone, and if it is a lengthy message, you know that the person may save it for later and ultimately just forget about it.
6. Don't Resend An Email Right Away
Patience is key here. It could be considered rude if you just re-send an email after not hearing back from the recipient after only a day. Everyone has their own schedule and usually a few days to a week is usually a good amount of time to get back to someone to see if they have received your email or not. When a lot of emails are flooding through the inbox, it can be easy to lose a random email or completely forget about it because of your work load. According to a Forbes article, the easiest way to increase your email reach by 54.7 percent is to actually re-send an email later on. During this study, participants re-sent the email a week later, and received more interaction compared to the first one. Lesson here: Definitely re-send it if you have not heard anything back, but do so in a timely manner.
7. Keep Email Subjects Organized
This little trick will keep you and your recipient in the know about the subject you are talking about. Instead of trying to send multiple new emails, keep conversations about the same topic in the same email chain. It makes it easier when you have to reference something from a previous email and it prevents you from wasting time searching through your inbox. If someone continues to send me new emails, I'll kindly resend an email through the original document that we started with. Unless the subject is completely different, it's just best to keep all your ducks in a row.
Emails can something be a huge hassle, but when you are being kind and understanding the rules to email etiquette, it will truly make your life a lot easier, and you will be seeing results in responses in no time.
Images: Giphy (7); Pexels