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Email Etiquette Workshop:

Email Etiquette Workshop Your key to effective communication.

Why is email etiquette important?:

Why is email etiquette important? We all interact with the printed word as though it has a personality and that personality makes positive and negative impressions upon us. Without immediate feedback your document can easily be misinterpreted by your reader, so it is crucial that you follow the basic rules of etiquette to construct an appropriate tone.

The elements of email etiquette:

The elements of email etiquette General format Writing long messages Attachments The curse of surprises Flaming Delivering information Delivering bad news Electronic Mailing Lists

General Format: The Basics:

General Format: The Basics Write a salutation for each new subject email. Try to keep the email brief (one screen length). Return emails within the same time you would a phone call. Check for punctuation, spelling, and grammatical errors Use caps only when appropriate. Format your email for plain text rather than HTML. Use a font that has a professional or neutral look.

General Format: Character Spacing:

General Format: Character Spacing Try to keep your line length at 80 characters or less. If your message is likely to be forwarded, keep it to 60 characters or less. Set your email preferences to automatically wrap outgoing plain text messages.

General Format: Lists and Bullets:

General Format: Lists and Bullets When you are writing directions or want to emphasize important points, number your directions or bullet your main points. For example, Place the paper in drawer A. Click the green “start” button. Another example, Improve customer satisfaction. Empower employees.

General Format: Tone:

General Format: Tone Write in a positive tone “When you complete the report.” instead of “If you complete the report.” Avoid negative words that begin with “un, non, ex” or that end with “less” (useless, non-existent, ex-employee, undecided). Use contractions to add a friendly tone. (don’t, won’t, can’t).


Attachments When you are sending an attachment tell your respondent what the name of the file is, what program it is saved in, and the version of the program. “This file is in MSWord 2000 under the name “LabFile.”

When your message is long:

When your message is long Create an “elevator” summary. Provide a table of contents on the first screen of your email. If you require a response from the reader then be sure to request that response in the first paragraph of your email. Create headings for each major section.

Elevator Summary and Table of Contents:

Elevator Summary and Table of Contents An elevator summary should have all the main components of the email. “Our profit margin for the last quarter went down 5%. As a result I am proposing budget adjustment for the following areas…” Table of contents “This email contains A. Budget projections for the last quarter B. Actual performance for the last quarter C. Adjustment proposal D. Projected profitability”

Delivering Information About Meetings, Orientations, Processes:

Delivering Information About Meetings, Orientations, Processes Include an elevator summary and table of contents with headings. Provide as much information as possible. Offer the reader an opportunity to receive the information via mail if the email is too confusing.

Delivering Bad News:

Delivering Bad News Deliver the news up front. Avoid blaming statements. Avoid hedging words or words that sound ambiguous. Maintain a positive resolve.

Delivering Bad News:

Delivering Bad News Deliver the news up front: “We are unable to order new computers this quarter due to budget cuts.” Avoid blaming: “I think it will be hard to recover from this, but what can I do to help?” Avoid using “weasel words” or hedging: “Our pricing structure is outdated.” More examples of hedging are: Intents and purposes Possibly, most likely Perhaps, maybe

Writing a complaint :

Writing a complaint You should briefly state the history of the problem to provide context for your reader. Explain the attempts you made previously to resolve the problem. Show why it is critical for the problem to be resolved by your reader. Offer suggestions on ways you think it can be resolved or how you are willing to help in the matter.

Writing a complaint:

Writing a complaint Briefly state the history: “The current way we choose officers for our organization is not democratic. As a result, we have a popularity contest that does not always get us the best candidates.” Show attempts made by you thus far to resolve the issue: “I have offered two alternatives for officer selection that still involves the votes of the members but both have been rejected by the executive board.”

Writing a complaint:

Writing a complaint Show why it is important for your reader to get involved: “This is a problem for two reasons. First, I am concerned that the executive board no longer protects the interests of the organization and that their actions are not in keeping with the constitution of the organization. Second, there have been a number of complaints from the members who feel that their concerns and preferences are not being addressed by the executive board, which decreases morale and productivity.”

Writing a complaint:

Writing a complaint Ask for help and offer a resolution: “Please let me know what other options I may have overlooked. I am willing to meet with the department head and the executive board to seek out a solution that is fair to the members and is good for the business of the organization . ”

Do not take your reader by surprise or press them to the wall:

Do not take your reader by surprise or press them to the wall Do not wait until the end of the day to introduce a problem or concern via memo or email. Avoid writing a litany of concerns that you have been harboring for a long period of time.

Flaming in emails:

Flaming in emails Flaming is a virtual term for venting or sending inflammatory messages in email. Avoid flaming because it tends to create a great deal of conflict that spirals out of control. Flame fights are the equivalent of food fights and tend to affect observers in a very negative way. What you say cannot be taken back; it is in black and white.

Keep flaming under control:

Keep flaming under control Before you send an email message, ask yourself, “would I say this to this person’s face?” Calm down before responding to a message that offends you. Once you send the message it is gone. Read your message twice before you send it and assume that you may be misinterpreted when proofreading.

Responding to a flame:

Responding to a flame Empathize with the sender’s frustration and tell them they are right if that is true If you feel you are right, thank them for bringing the matter to your attention Explain what led to the problem in question Avoid getting bogged down by details and minor arguments If you are aware that the situation is in the process of being resolved let the reader know at the top of the response Apologize if necessary

When Email Won’t Work:

When Email Won’t Work There are times when you need to take your discussion out of the virtual world and make a phone call. If things become very heated, a lot of misunderstanding occurs, or when you are delivering very delicate news then the best way is still face-to face.

PowerPoint Presentation:

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