Social email among your family and friends is breezy and allows for errors of misspelling, profanity, sarcasm and humor, but this is not the case when sending emails in the workplace. In fact, workplace emails are very formal with strict guidelines generally set by companies.
Here are suggestions to make sure your emails are compliant with email etiquette in business settings:
* Emails are best used as a way of sending cold data, charts, directions, and follow up information.
* Avoid being personal or emotional in emails since tonal and nonverbal clues are not available, and intent can be easily misconstrued and lead to confusion.
* Email is not a substitute for creating and maintaining a business relationship. However, email is simply one of many resources to help support a business relationship.
* Be brief. Do not talk too much in your email, and remember that your emails are not private and are easily monitored.
* Begin and end your email as you would a business letter- with a salutation at the beginning and a signature at the end. As you offer your salutation, begin with the word “Dear, and then add a colon: (not a comma) at the end of the name. For example, “Dear Joe:”
* Single space lines and double space paragraphs in emails.
* Black ink is preferable.
* Provide a block signature line including your name, company name, title within your company, your location/address, website, address, email address, phone, and fax so people can use their copy/paste feature to put you in their Personal Data Assistant (PDA).
* Emails can be considered legal documents. Disclaimers are quite commonly used by companies and placed below block signatures to decrease liability. Since laws vary from state to state, it is wise to ask for legal advice when preparing your email’s disclaimer.
* Write in full sentences. Use proper capitalization and grammar. Avoid slang, shorthand, and rambling. Take the time to use the spell-check feature, and make any necessary corrections before you send your email.
* If you work in an industry with many acronyms, teach your reader what the acronyms mean early in your email. For example, American Medical Association (AMA), etc.
* Humor in the workplace does break stress, but limit the number of jokes you send and make sure your humor could not be considered vulgar or target groups (e.g., ethnicity, gender, religion, politics, age, etc.) If you have friends outside of work who send you inappropriate humor to your workplace, ask them to send it to your home computer.
By following these simple suggestions, you can protect your professional image and reputation as well as protecting yourself legally.