Email Etiquette

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Communication Skills Training

Email Etiquette

We all receive e-mails that irritate or even downright annoy us.

We usually find that the sort of things that make people hot under the collar are:

  • E-mails with no subject line especially when they are sufficiently important to keep but then you can't find them when you need them
  • Being copied in on e-mails that aren't relevant.
  • E-mails that don't have a clear message or action.
  • Missing attachments.

We used to speak to each other face to face or over the phone so these problems didnt arise quite so often.

Imagine calling a meeting with six people when you just need to speak to one of them, not telling any of them what it is about or what they are supposed to do and asking them to look at a document you haven't brought with you.

They wouldn't show up to your next meeting!

These days we are much more likely to send an e-mail. Unfortunately we cant send a smile or frown along with it; we can't raise our voices to be heard or share a laugh.

The person on the other end just gets the text.

All the 'other stuff' that makes our communications work (or not) has to be assumed.

Most forms of communication have some sort of protocol associated with them that we all largely understand, barring cultural differences.

So we know that when we speak to someone we are supposed to look at them, but that it is considered rude to stare; we know that when we write a letter there is a general protocol that we learned at school about formality, addresses, openings, closings and so on.

But there is no agreed or generally understood protocol around e-mail.

Will your E-mail be understood in the way you mean it to be?

E-mail tends to be more of a brain dump of what is going on for the sender at that particular moment with little thought to how or when it will be received and/or understood.

The trouble is that the stuff you have going on in your head when you send an e-mail will be different to the stuff going on for the person at the other end.

All sorts of things can affect the way they receive your e-mail and the meaning they read into it.

They may be having a bad day or they may be in too much of a hurry to read it properly.

The miracle is that we manage to communicate at all by e-mail.

The most important thing is to get the message across in the way we want, which means the other person has to read the e-mail and then react the way you intended when you sent it.

If only it were so simple!

Putting a little bit of care and thought into our e-mails makes all the difference.

We don't have a magic wand that will make all your e-mail frustrations disappear but we do have a few simple rules and insights that will take some of the stress out of e-mail communications for you.


Communication Skills Training

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