Businessman checking his email box from inside his smart phoneIf you’re going to effectively communicate with your coworkers and supervisors via email, it’s important to understand that there are several important do’s and don’ts to mind when crafting your messages. In the old days, all communication was done in person or on the phone, but with the advent of the Internet, things have changed.

In order to avoid alienating your contacts, consider the following tips:

1. Avoid Using Capital Letters
When sending email messages, it’s essential that you view your email in the eyes of the recipient before pressing the send button. Consider this example:

“I just wanted to say that I am EXTREMELY UPSET with the performance of YOUR department over the past few months. Your results are TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE.”

The capitalized words almost jump out at you from the computer screen, and may be construed as being insulting or intimidating. Instead, consider the following:

“Your department has significantly underperformed in the past quarter, and I can’t emphasize enough how disappointed I am in the results.”

That narrative gets the same point across, but in a more respectful and professional manner.

2. Be Brief
If you feel the need to include extended commentary in your email, pick up the phone instead. This saves the recipient the time of reading a lengthy diatribe. If you must send an email, get to the point quickly and leave out any unnecessary verbiage.

3. Minimize Jokes
There’s a time and a place for everything, and humor may not necessarily be taken in its proper context when it’s sent via email. Therefore, consider cutting back on or entirely eliminating humor in your messages. There’s just too much risk that your joke will be taken in the wrong context.

4. Start Off With a Respectful Greeting
It can be very tempting to simply get right to the point when sending an email message to a supervisor or coworker, but you should always include a proper greeting. Even if it’s just a brief “Hello,” this simple word can go a long way to ensure that the point of your email isn’t ignored.

5. Thank Your Recipient at the End
When you’ve made your point, always be sure to thank the recipient at the end of your message. This is just one of the many ways to maintain respect and professionalism within your office.

6. Double Check Who You’re Sending It To
A message meant for a coworker could end up in the hands of your supervisor if you’re not careful. And if it contains derogatory comments, you could end up in the unemployment line. Always double-check who you’re sending your messages to before sending.

Now that most communication between coworkers, supervisors, and subordinates is email, it’s important to understand these distinctions. While your chances of losing a job because of an ill-advised email message sent to the wrong people are minimal, it still does exist. Exercise the same restraint in your email communications that you do in your face-to-face discussions, and you’ll be sure to maintain solid and professional relationships with your boss and coworkers.

What are your thoughts on email etiquette?

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