Don’t write in all capital letters.
It is the equivalent of electronic
shouting. On the other hand, don’t use all
lowercase: It makes the writer seem indifferent and
the message not as important. |
Use simple text messages.
Your e-mail program may be able to
handle all the fancy graphics from Web pages, but
many cannot. Large graphics also distract from the
main purpose of the e-mail.
Use correct grammar and spelling.
Almost all e-mail programs have a
spell-check feature. Pay attention to punctuation
as well. Failure to proofread your message may
brand you as a “poor communicator”—which is
tantamount to a death sentence in the business
Answer business e-mails within 24 hours.
You will show that you’re
professional and courteous by replying to messages
in your inbox within one day. You’re not required
to answer as soon as you receive a new
message—despite how speedy it is to communicate
Don’t expect international contacts to
respond as quickly as you would like.
Local customs and/or technology
issues may prevent them from writing you back
within 24 hours. Be understanding about this. If
something is urgent, make that clear and give an
alternative way for them to reach you—for example,
by providing a telephone number.
Be aware of nuances in speech when
addressing members of the global business
community. Slang, abbreviations
and seasonal references rarely are universal. For
example, our spring may be someone else’s autumn.
Spell out dates to avoid confusion. To Americans,
2/10/03 is February 10, but to Germans, it’s
October 2. Also, avoid emoticons—the smiley and
frown faces commonly used in e-mails and instant
messages; they could be taken the wrong way.
Take your finger off that send button.
When you’re tired or angry, don’t
send an e-mail. Write it, save it as a draft and
read it the next day. Maybe it is exactly what you
want to say. On the other hand, maybe you come on
a little too strong—certain words can get you into
hot water. Also, ask yourself whether the person
you’re e-mailing really needs to know a particular
tidbit. Cutting down on the volume of corporate
communications is a wonderful goal!
Never substitute electronic mail for a
face-to-face meeting. It never
is appropriate to reprimand, reward or fire
someone via e-mail. Professionalism applies here.
Squash the urge to forward chain
e-mails. The headers and footers
always are at least 10 times longer than the
message itself, and people get tons of them every
day. If the joke really is too funny not to pass
along, copy and paste it into a new e-mail and
then send that one to your friends and/or
Watch your language. You
don’t have to answer every e-mail you get. If you
get a chain or prank e-mail, most of the time you
can ignore it. If you do reply or send a new
message, don’t forget most companies have a way of
permanently recording everything you send. As a
rule, do not write anything in an e-mail that you
wouldn’t want your boss or your grandmother to
Resist attaching pictures, letters and
large documents to your e-mails.
They sometimes can “choke” the
recipient’s system, causing technological problems
for the rest of the day. Don’t send a large
attachment unless people ask you to and they
expect to get one.
When you reply to an e-mail, include the
original in the body of your message.
Computer users look at dozens of
e-mails a day, and they may need a point of
reference for your response. You don’t have to
include the entire message, just enough to jog
Turn on your auto-reply function if you
plan on being out of the office for an
extended period of time. Your
contacts will appreciate knowing when you expect
to return, and this is a good way to get the word