An estimated 2.5 billion emails are sent worldwide everyday, and many of those emails are sent back and forth between colleagues at work.
Not surprisingly, most of us fall victim to those cringeworthy moments in the office when we wish could click back time and unsend that email. At work, it's my responsibility to communicate to the entire organization, and with years of experience, it’s now my responsibility to pass down these valuable tips that I’ve learned, which could prevent these major faux pauxs from happening in your life.
Do verify the name of the recipient. It’s common sense, right? You’d be surprised. Most programs will automatically store the contact information of every person you’ve emailed from your account, unless you’ve disabled this feature. So if you’re writing an email for Lindsey your co-worker but selected Lindsey your dog sitter from the drop-down without looking twice, then this mistake could put you in the proverbial dog house, especially if it contains sensitive information.
Don’t be rude. Start off your email with a sincere morning greeting. If you’re replying to a previous email, thank the recipient for answering your questions. Sending an email without a greeting or a closing remark could set a bad tone, even if you meant well.
Do grade your email like a paper. Nobody ever gets a draft right on the first try. Make a habit of utilizing the spell check button, but don’t give yourself an 'A' just yet. Spell checking your message won’t clear up grammatical eff-ups, nor does it know the difference between witch and...well, you do the rhyming.
Don’t use acronyms. TBH. ILY. IDK. For the love of all that is millennial, what does that mean? Of course you know, but it’s considered poor etiquette to communicate with a colleague, manager or a client via email in the same way you would text a friend outside of work. Spell it out, otherwise the recipient might think you’re challenging them to a game of Scrabble.
Do proofread out loud. A former college professor once told me that the best way to catch spelling errors is to read your message out loud slowly, word for word. Just imagine that you’re singing along to a jingle and watching the bouncing ball hop on top of every word of your message. You just did it right now, didn’t you?
Don’t use smileys. Oftentimes people use smileys to send a goofy message or when they’re impelled to deliver feedback, but there’s a dark side to this. A recently published study from the Sage Journal titled “The Dark Side of a Smiley” revealed that people will question your leadership skills when you do this. The best way to virtually express your thoughts is to just write it.
Do set your “auto reply” message. This way your colleagues know if you’re away from the office. Make sure to update your away dates too or this could upset your management team or anyone else looking for you, especially if you’re the person of contact for a major task.
Don’t get sloppy. Keep your paragraphs short and your message concise whenever possible. This will be a time saver for you and for the recipient. Here’s a rule of thumb: if your message starts to look like a dissertation, then you’re better off calling or meeting with that person.
Delay your delivery. Typically when you click send, your email immediately shoots through a virtual vortex at the speed of light, but most programs, like Microsoft Outlook for example, will allow you to put a delivery delay on your outgoing messages for as long as you need. So if you stumbled upon an error right after you sent your email, don’t sweat it. You will now have the opportunity to go back and edit it before it’s too late. Believe me, it’s worth Googling.
Hit “Reply All,” but only when necessary. If you were included in a department email inviting you to participate in their secret santa gift exchange for the holidays, hitting the “Reply All” button means that you’re responding to every person in the department. So if you intend on sending a private email to your closest colleague on that list to tell them who your giftee is, make sure you close that group email and open up a new draft, otherwise you’ll be the killjoy that stole the holidays.