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Email Etiquette at Work
      Author:Nikita Garia     Source: http://cn.wsj.com     Release Time:6/17/2011 9:23:44 AM     View Times:18600
Email is an essential pillar of communication in today's workplace but not everyone knows how to use it well.

Since emails are not as formal as letters, experts say that many employees don't pay attention to the tone and composition of work-related email. But that can hurt professional credibility.

Your emails make an impression on your managers, colleagues, clients, and on possible recruiters. Sloppy emails may show that you are not disciplined and risk causing misunderstanding among colleagues. A poorly-written email along with a job application can damage your chances of landing the job.
So, next time you write an email, here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind:

1. Writing style: 'Most youngsters tend to bring the informality of SMS into emails,' says Venkataramana B., chief people officer of the India unit of retail firm Landmark Group. That's a no-no for work emails.

Follow the rules of grammar and punctuation when composing your email. Avoid slang, acronyms and short forms like 'u' instead of 'you'.

Don't send emails without a spell check. Avoid exclamation marks, as that may seem immature. Avoid writing in capital letters, since in writing this can be interpreted as the equivalent of shouting.

Ideally keep emoticons like ':)' out of official emails. 'There are other avenues like Facebook and Twitter for these things,' says Prashant Deo Singh, head of human resources at Panasonic India Pvt.

You can always use your personal email for casual messages, says Runa Maitra, director of human resources at OSC Export Services Pvt., a provider of information technology and management services.

2. Composition: Given the flood of email we get daily, it's best to keep your emails short and to-the-point. Don't write 'sentences that tend to be never-ending' says Mr. Venkataramana. If you have to make a number of points, use bullets to cover all your points briefly.

If you are replying to a thread of email, consider deleting the older text in the body of your email, or summarizing it in a few lines.

It's a good idea to add a signature at the end of your email, which includes your phone number and other contact details. This would be particularly useful for emails sent to clients or recruiters, or other people outside your organization.

3. Subject line: The lack of a subject line or a vague subject like 'Hello' or 'I have a question' can be annoying to busy people. They also make it harder for the receiver to search for your email in their inbox.

Be specific in your subject line and mention if the matter is urgent. Instead of saying 'I have a question', say 'My holiday plans; not urgent'.

At the same time, don't make the subject line too long or detailed.

Also, don't start discussing a new topic under the same subject line. This also makes it difficult to identify mails about specific queries. It's best to send separate emails for separate topics.

4. Get the name right: Email recipients can get angry if the body of your email has the wrong spelling of their name or, even worse, if you address the person as 'Mr.' when it should really be 'Ms.' Always double-check spellings and titles before sending your email. If you are not sure whether the recipient is male or female, either use the person's first name or the full name.

5. Caution on 'Reply All': This is a tricky button on our email box because if used without care, it can be a source of much embarrassment.

One of the most common problems a ' you may not realize that your message has gone to people who should not be reading it.

Imagine? hitting Reply to All in a group message when you wanted to joke around with someone in particular or complain about your boss to a colleague. It happens even to people who've been using email for years.

Also, sometimes employees use the Reply to All option because 'they want to show to others that they are doing some work,' says Mr. Singh. 'People mark copies to humanity,' he says, but that simply overloads the inbox of recipients and can be annoying.

Use Reply to All infrequently and after careful thought.

6. Before hitting 'Send': Emails can be easily forwarded and thus be read by more people than you think. So re-read your emails carefully before sending it, to make sure that it is not offensive and that it doesn't say anything that could get you into trouble.

Emails are not a place for emotional outburst. Don't be in a rush to send angry emails, as they might come back to haunt you later. If you need to respond to an offensive email, carefully 'draft the mail, read through it, and press the send button only after (you have) calmed down,' suggests Mr. Venkataramana. In general, it's best to avoid this kind of emails.

7. Time frame: How quickly you need to reply to an email typically depends on the nature of the email. In general, you should reply immediately. If you know you don't have an immediate answer to a particular query, reply to acknowledge the email and give the person a time frame of when you think you'll be able to respond.

'Ideally you should reply within 24 hours,' says Snehal Mantri, director of marketing at real estate firm Mantri Developers Pvt.

8.Calling After Email: It might be tempting to call up the person you just emailed, but desist. It can be annoying for the recipient.

Give the person some hours or even a day to think and respond, no matter how eager you may be for the reply.? If it's urgent, mention that in the subject.

If anything a ' if it is an important matter a ' call the person first alerting them to the email.

9. Attachments: In general, avoid sending large files as attachments since they clog up the recipient's inbox. If the recipient is close to filling up his or her inbox capacity, your large files may even get deleted. If you are sending pictures, resize them to a smaller resolution. If you absolutely have to send a large file, call the recipient to check first.

10. When not to send email: Don't send emails for every little thing and especially not for something that can be tackled easily over the phone or in person. 'Emails are there to save your time, not waste it,' says Mr. Singh of Panasonic.

Avoid putting sensitive or confidential information in emails because you never know who ends up reading them. Finally, be careful about forwarding messages, especially jokes that can be offensive or misconstrued.
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