Email Etiquette: Best Practices for the Workplace
As email use rises in the workplace, so does the opportunity for these emails to result in clashes between workers with different communication styles. This can cause unnecessary tension between colleagues and between managers and employees. So how do we fix the tension and other issues that email miscommunication can create? Here are some email best practices that can help to keep everyone on the same page.
Being straightforward can help save time and keep others from misinterpreting your intentions. Avoiding sarcasm, as the chances your tone will be conveyed how you intended are slim. Say what you mean to lessen the chance of confusion.
Avoid Being Short
While being direct is certainly a good practice, overly short emails can convey displeasure or irritation to the reader—even if the sender didn’t mean for such a translation. The best course of action is always to include a greeting and write complete sentences. While replying “Great.” is shorter and less time-consuming than “Hello, Marie, I think that sounds great,” the second option clarifies the tone and meaning of the email.
Avoid Informal Abbreviations
Using ‘u’ instead of ‘you,’ ‘r’ instead of ‘are,’ or ‘lol’ to show your amusement has become common in part due to the desire to type or text a message as quickly as possible. Despite time-saving intentions, an email correspondence full of such abbreviations may strike readers as unprofessional or even rude. It’s best to leave casual abbreviations and acronyms out of workplace communication.
Avoid Colored and Wacky Fonts
While it may be tempting to personalize your email settings, bright colors or swirly fonts can be very distracting for readers and may make your message difficult to read. It can be a frustrating experience for the receiver if they must read the message repeatedly or squint at the screen. Instead, use easy-to-read fonts and dark colors such as a traditional 12pt. Arial or Times New Roman font in black.
Have Long Discussions Face-to-Face When Possible
It still holds that email is a great way to communicate for short, quick messages. Talking in person is a better option for longer discussions or topics more up for debate. While it may be easier for emotions to escalate while behind a computer screen, being face-to-face during these discussions makes it easier to express or understand an opposing point of view and reach a compromise.