I normally work in an office. We have fancy email addresses with the company name dot com and we spend a lot of time sending emails back and forth to clients. So it never ceases to amaze me how badly people behave over email.
I was looking for a house a while ago. I sent an email to a prospective landlord (via Craigslist) asking when a good time to see it would be. Here was her response (I italicized it for clarity):
thanks for the response--i will be showing it next tues (but remember, it is occupied)-- the dates sound good-- may be best to call me, _____, for a phone interview first-- weekend is good for this ###-###-#### (or earlier of necessary)--- hope to hear from you
This one was even better (and I have not changed any of the punctuation or wording):
sorry only for one person.
That is all she (he?) said. Maybe this sounds silly, but I don't really want to rent from someone who can't even treat me as a client. Is this how they write emails all the time? If they are looking for a job, do they write their cover letter like this? Then I thought, maybe I am just being picky and anal about things; I do have a tendency to do that from time to time. So I went (where else) online to find out: What are the proper rules for emailing, especially when it's a business or "professional" email?
I found a great website. It's called 101 Email Etiquette Tips. It is a series of 101 tips, pertaining to sending and formatting emails, email attachments, cc'ing, forwarding, IMs, Business emails, blogs and message boards. Some of them were a little silly, some of them seem self-explanatory, but a lot of them were pretty spot on!
Here are some of my favorites (I added a couple of comments in blue):
- Make sure your e-mail includes a courteous greeting and closing. Helps to make your e-mail not seem demanding or terse.
- Spell check - emails with typos are simply not taken as seriously.
- Are you using proper sentence structure? First word capitalized with appropriate punctuation? Multiple instances of !!! or ??? are perceived as rude or condescending. **see lady above
- Refrain from using the Reply to All feature to give your opinion to those who may not be interested. In most cases replying to the Sender alone is your best course of action.
- Type in complete sentences. To type random phrases or cryptic thoughts does not lend to clear communication. **also see lady above
- Always end your emails with "Thank you," "Sincerely," "Take it easy," "Best regards" - something!
- Do not type in all caps. That's yelling or reflects shouting emphasis.
- Typing your emails in all small case gives the perception of lack of education or laziness. **OH! What? See lady above!
- When forwarding email, if you cannot take the time to type a personal comment to the person you are forwarding to--then don't bother.
- If you must forward to more than one person, put your email address in the TO: field and all the others you are sending to in the BCc: field to protect their email address from being published to those they do not know. This is a serious privacy issue! **Do you know how many of my friend's friend's email address I needlessly have due to this issue? So many!
- Be very careful how you use Reply to All and Cc: in a business environment. Doing so for CYA or to subtlety tattle can backfire and have your viewed as petty or insecure. **Annoyingly, the CYA (aka. tattle) happens a lot in my office.
- IMing is not an excuse to forget your grade school education.
- Don't fall for trolls. Trolls are folks who will post rude comments just to get a rise out of everyone.**Did you guys see THIS post? If you get a chance, read it and then check out the subsequent comments!
- If any email states to forward to all your friends, or just 5 people -- do everyone a favor and just hit delete!
Here is the PDF of all 101 Tips.
What is your biggest email pet peeve? What is the worst case of punctuation or grammar you have ever experienced? You don't have to say who it was sent from, but were they supposedly an intelligent business person?