Effective communication is an essential skill to have as dietitians. Most workplace communications take place via email, so it is crucial to understand proper email etiquette. Otherwise, you may encounter barriers in getting your message across the way you intended. This blog post is an email etiquette 101 crash course, with advice on how to write clear and concise subject lines, use professional greetings and sign-offs, and write in an appropriate tone. You will also learn tips on how to avoid common email mistakes, such as sending messages to the wrong recipient or using poor grammar.
The Importance of Learning Email Etiquette 101
Email etiquette is the foundation of communication in the professional world. Just think about how you felt the last time you received an email with your name misspelled.
A simple mistake like misspelling someone’s name can have a big impact on the outcome of your message, including how your clients, prospective clients, and colleagues perceive you as a person.
The way you communicate is an actual representation of you, so it’s important to put the time into learning proper email etiquette.
Email Etiquette Tip #1: FORMAT
🟢 Write a clear and concise subject line
The subject line is the first thing your recipient sees, so make sure it is clear, concise, and attention-grabbing. Think of it as a short summary of your email. It’s best to keep it simple, the less words the better.
🟢 Address the recipient appropriately
When writing an email, it is always polite to address the recipient first. You can do this by using their full name and a greeting, such as “Hello [Name]” or “Dear [Name].” If you know the recipient’s formal title, such as “Dr.” or “Professor,” you should use it.
🟢 Always keep your emails brief and to the point
In order to avoid confusion, stick to one topic per email in order to clarify the action you want the recipient to take or the message you want to convey. Avoid lengthy messages, if possible. By doing so, you and the recipient will remain focused on what needs to be accomplished.
🟢 Avoid fonts that are distracting or difficult to read
Use simple, clear, and easy-to-read fonts in your emails. Avoid using fonts that are too small, too large, or cursive, as they can be difficult to read. Some appropriate fonts to use include Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri. Keeping these standards in mind is part of good email etiquette.
🟢 Include your full name, title, and contact information in your signature
Your signature should include your full name, job title, and contact information, such as your phone number or email address. It should also be consistent and appear automatically at the end of every email you send or reply to. You can set this up in your email settings, whether you use Google or Microsoft.
🟢 Wait to add recipient email addresses until you are ready to send your email
The best way to avoid sending your message before it’s complete is to add the recipient(s)’ email address right before you hit send. By doing this, you’ll also help prevent accidentally sending a message to the wrong person.
Email Etiquette Tip #2: TONE
🟢 Be friendly and respectful
Be careful about using a harsh tone in your emails. Instead, use polite and friendly language that is respectful of the recipient. Always take the time to consider how your email may be interpreted.
🟢 Consider your emotions when drafting the email
If you are feeling upset or frustrated, it is best to wait to send an email. Taking some time to cool down will help you avoid using passive-aggressive language and will allow you to write a clear and concise email that gets your point across.
🟢 Use humor sparingly and avoid sarcasm
Humor and sarcasm can be difficult to interpret in written communication, especially if you don’t have a close relationship with the reader. It is best to avoid both in your emails, and instead focus on direct and friendly messaging.
Email Etiquette Tip #3: GRAMMAR
🟢 Always proofread your emails
Misspellings and grammatical errors can make it difficult for the recipient to understand what you are saying. This can lead to more emails being exchanged to clarify the message, which is inefficient and time-consuming for everyone involved. To avoid this, always use spell check tools and proofread your emails carefully before sending them.
🟢 Use complete sentences and proper punctuation
Complete sentences and proper punctuation are essential when communicating via email. Run-on sentences or incomplete sentences can be difficult to follow, and using too many exclamation points or question marks can make your email seem unprofessional.
🟢 Be sure to spell the recipient’s name correctly
One of the most important email etiquette tips is to always double-check the recipient’s name. Even if you think you know how to spell it, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Misspelling a client or prospective client’s name can make them feel disrespected. It’s a simple courtesy that can make a big difference.
Email Etiquette Tip #4: INTENT
🟢 Be clear about what your email aims to achieve
Take some time to think about what you need the recipient to do after reading your email. Do you need them to take action, such as responding to your request or providing information? Or is the email simply for informative purposes? Once you know what you want to achieve, make sure your messaging is clear and to the point.
🟢 Ensure recipients receive enough information to take appropriate action
To reduce back-and-forth emails, provide recipients with all the information they need to take action. Be specific and think about what they might need to know. This is email etiquette at its finest, and the recipient will appreciate you taking the time to consider their needs.
Email Etiquette Tip #5: RESPONSES
🟢 Organize your email responses by priority
Responding to emails in a timely manner is another key component of email etiquette. Develop a process for prioritizing which emails you respond to first.
For example, you could:
- Respond to emails in the order they were received. This is a good option if you want to ensure that you don’t miss any emails.
- Respond to emails from internal employees first, then clients. This is a good option if you want to prioritize the needs of your team.
- Respond to the simplest emails first, then save the more challenging ones for later. This is a good option if you want to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
🟢 Acknowledge emails you received that may need more time to respond fully
Respond to emails promptly, even if it’s just to say you’re working on it. This will help to keep the sender updated and prevent them from feeling like their email has been forgotten.
🟢 Recognize when to reply all or not
Use the “Reply All” button carefully. It’s important to include all relevant recipients in your response, but you don’t want to flood inboxes with unnecessary emails. Be mindful of your audience. You are an expert in email etiquette, but that does not mean the sender is as well!
🟢 Be cautious when forwarding emails
The same caution you use when replying to emails should also be used when forwarding. Before forwarding an email, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is all of the content in the email chain appropriate for the recipient I am forwarding it to?
- Is there any sensitive information that needs to be excluded before forwarding?
- Is it necessary to forward the email at all?
Forwarding emails should be used sparingly and only when necessary. If you are unsure whether or not to forward an email, it is always better to err on the side of caution and not forward it.
Email Etiquette Tip #6: OUT OF OFFICE
🟢 Inform the appropriate people when you will be unavailable
Inform your internal team and external parties of your planned absence before leaving for an extended period. Let people know a week in advance, and remind them a day or two before you leave. This will give them enough time to contact you if needed.
🟢 Schedule automated replies for internal and external communications
Schedule automated replies if you don’t plan to check your email while away. This lets people know you’re unavailable and when you’ll return. You can select dates and times for the replies in your email settings, for Google or Microsoft.
🟢 Keep your automated out-of-office email simple and straightforward
You don’t need a complex out-of-office email. Keep it simple and include the following components:
- Be clear and concise. Let the sender know that you’re unavailable and when you expect to return.
- Provide essential information. If you have delegated your responsibilities to someone else, inform the sender of their contact information so they can reach them in your absence.
- Avoid unnecessary details. There’s no need to tell the sender why you’re away or where you’re going.
- Proofread your message. Make sure there are no errors in grammar or spelling.
Email etiquette 101 is essential for building and maintaining professional relationships. It shows your colleagues and clients that you are respectful of their time and that you take your work seriously. Even minor mistakes in communication can make a big impression, so it’s worth learning and applying the email etiquette tips outlined in this article.