5 Must-Know Email Etiquette Tips

ICYMI, we are still with email in the workplace. In fact, a survey by Adobe found that despite all the chat apps and project management options now available, email volume actually increased in 2016: White collar workers spent 17% more time checking email than the year before.

And even though many aspects of the workplace have become far more casual, how we present ourselves in written communication still matters – a lot. I frequently receive questions about email and text etiquette, so I thought I’d share some of the latest thinking on how to effectively communicate in the workplace. Because it’s not just what you say, it’s also how you say it.

No. 1 Rule of Email Etiquette: Know When It Is Appropriate — and When Another Method May Be Better

“Email is an asynchronous communication platform, but many people make the mistake of treating it as though it’s instant. Just because you’re sending the email now, that doesn’t mean your recipient will read it now. Unlike instant messaging, where you can often see whether a person is engaged and likely to respond in the moment, an email could sit for hours before it’s opened, making it less than ideal for urgent communications. As professional efficiency coach Marsha Egan told CNN, ‘The best gift any group can give each other is to never use e-mail urgently. If you need it within three hours, pick up the phone.’ Or use text, IM, or the communication features inside your work management software.” — Read more at Workfront.

Text Like a Boss (Your Boss, That Is)

“A lot of how you end up communicating via text should reflect how your boss uses the medium. You never want to be less formal than they are, but you can and should follow their lead as an indication of what construes acceptable work texting in your company culture. They capitalize and punctuate formally? So should you. If they’re more haphazard, you have a bit more slack yourself.” — Read more at Time.

Try Scheduling Your Emails

“Ask yourself, is this email urgent? If not, consider scheduling it to go out during an ideal response window. Avoid sending out a barrage of emails to go out at the end of the work day; when emails may be read but any action saved for later. A more ideal response window would be first thing the next morning or when they first get into the office.” — Read more at Inc.

Know Your Organization’s Specific Rules

“Deutsche Bank AG … is curtailing their use of electronic-messaging via mobile phones, including barring the use of texting for business purposes except on approved systems the bank can monitor and record. … The bank has several approved corporate instant-messaging programs that can be used on bank- or employee-owned phones and tablets … other big banks already have adopted similar rules.” — Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

Good Written Communication Skills Can Take You Far

“CEO of Accenture’s North America business Julie Sweet runs a $16 billion business and oversees a team of more than 50,000 employees. So she knows a thing or two about the most valuable skills in the corporate world. The best investment a professional can make is to develop one often overlooked skill, the CEO says. ‘What’s the greatest advice I give?’ Sweet tells CNBC. ‘Develop excellent communication skills.’ Both in person and in writing, such as when using email. ‘I think people underrate the importance of investing in your communication skills as a way to progress in your career,’ Sweet says.” — Read more at CNBC.

What are some of your memorable experiences about texting or emailing at work? Any bad habits that rub you the wrong way? Please share in the comments below!

Image source: Women of Color in Tech stock images.

Lindsey Pollak is the leading voice on millennials in the workplace, trusted by global companies, universities, the world’s top media outlets — and, most importantly, by millennials themselves. A New York Times bestselling author, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her keynote speeches have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.

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Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


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