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Email Etiquette in the Workplace: The Proper Way to Send Email Messages at Work

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Wait! Before you hit the send button on your email at work, read the content over thoroughly. This is to ensure that the recipient(s) will not perceive your message as offensive, incomprehensible, unprofessional, or in bad taste- even if this was not you

Wait!  Before you hit the send button on your email, read the content over thoroughly. This is to ensure that the recipient(s) will not perceive your message as offensive, incomprehensible, unprofessional, or in bad taste- even if this was not your intention. You should think twice about how the recipients might act in response to your message, as well. As a rule, when using and sending e-mail in the workplace you should be particularly mindful as to how you word the body of your content along with the subject description. Because- once you hit the send button it will reach the intended (and possibly some unintended) recipients in a matter of seconds. Your work email is an excellent device in which to send and receive important messages in the workplace. The proper way to send email at work is to keep them brief, professional, work-related, and comprehensible. This guideline below displays the proper protocol for sending e-mail at work.

Subject line- when composing your email; be sure to utilize the subject line of your email to give the recipients an idea as to what the message is about. Simply enter a brief title description in the subject line. If you fail to label your email, your recipients may not find it necessary to open it, at least not right away.

Send Brief messages- you should keep your messages brief (if possible), professional, and right on point. Wordy messages will only bore and perhaps confuse your readers.

Never use profanity- you should never, never use profanity (not even a joking manner) in your e-mail messages at work! Doing so, will only demonstrate a lack of professionalism on your part and shows little respect for your recipients.  Also, your employer may be able to monitor your (and all employees) email without your knowledge or consent.  With that being said, sending inappropriate emails during company time can actually come back to haunt you later.

Don’t send unprofitable mail- you should only send professional work-related e-mail when using company email in the first place. Avoid sending trivial mail that will cost the company thousands overall. And by no means should you send or even forward inappropriate and non-work related mail to your co-workers.  Keep in mind that some mail can be viewed as offensive and discriminatory if it carries derogatory messages pertaining to one’s sexuality, race, religion, etc. Again, your employer may have access to your e-mail box and this is something that could land you in hot water.

Avoid using all caps- at times it may be difficult to translate one’s feelings via email and others times it’s plain obvious. Therefore, avoid using all caps in your messages.  Your recipient(s) may get the impression that you are shouting, furious, or just plain rude.

Don’t Spam- Spamming your co-workers during company time is unproductive and can cost the company thousands of dollars in lost productivity every year.  Also, many of your co-workers might get annoyed with you cluttering their email box with junk mail.

Utilize the spell check- be sure to use the spell check function before your send your mail.  You should also review your content for grammatical errors and proper sentence structure.

Don’t BBC without informing other recipients- you should never send blind copies without notifying the other receivers.  This could be very hurtful to some (should they find out) and could also cause conflict between employees. Doing so could also erode your credibility with your co-workers.

End with “thanks” – you should always thank your recipients for taking the time to read your email and for responding to your emails. This displays courtesy and respect on your part.

Signature- you should always signature your email by typing in your full name or at least the name your co-workers know you by…before you send. 

Remember to send attachments if applicable- if you state in your e-mail that you will be sending attachments make sure that you do just that.  It can be rather frustrating to the receivers when you forget to attach, especially if it’s of great importance. If you learn that you failed to send an attachment…be sure to send them promptly (enter attachments in subject line) along with an apology to the recipients.

 Other tips and warnings for sending email at work:

  • Don’t forget to send cc, when applicable
  • Be careful not to exclude anyone who should get a copy of the email
  • Never mark email urgent when they are not
  • Never send harassing or threatening messages
  • Never send love messages to co-workers
  • Never send hate messages
  • Never send messages that degrade or bad-mouth your co-workers or the company
  • Never use slang or "text message style" writing
  • Caution: some spam e-mail carry viruses
  • Can apply any of these tips when sending personal e-mail as well


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