Top 10 Email Etiquette Tips & Team Training

As someone who teaches email etiquette I thought I should have a Top 10 email etiquette blog post and share my experience on the global subject of email etiquette training. This subject fits nicely with posts I’ve already written on Email Subject Lines, Reply All, and Good & Bad Email. It will also fit well with future blog posts as well as my Top 10 list called How to avoid embarrassing office e-mail gaffes, which was published in the Globe & Mail.

Email Etiquette Top 10

Let’s first explore the question “Are Top 10 lists important?”

Yes:

Top 10 email etiquette lists are effective ways to create awareness of behaviours that reduce office productivity, Return-On-Investment and damage personal and corporate reputation. Creating awareness is required before an adult can be motivated to participate in training and therefore learn.

No:

Top 10 email etiquette lists are (by themselves), not effective motivators for adults who need to acquire new knowledge and learn how to apply new behaviour to their work environment. Effective motivators are often linked to significant changes like performance measurements and job requirements or the desire for career advancement.

Motivation leads to Participation & Acquisition which leads to Application

If lists create awareness, are 10 really enough?

I think we need more than Top 10 for the following two reasons:

Bruce Speaking On Global TV about Millennials

Bruce Speaking On Global TV about Millennials

  1. All behaviour creates impressions – not just 10
  2. A Top 10 list changes from person-to-person and work environment-to-work environment. It’s not one size fits all.

Let’s look at an Example:

We have two people:

  • Bob is 48 and has been working for 28 years
  • John is 21 and has been working for 2 months

It’s guaranteed their experiences and communication styles are going to be different. So, what they need to learn is also going to be different right? Yes and no.

Yes:

While Bob may not be familiar with technology he likely knows basic writing and communication styles like punctuation, capitals and paragraphs. Bob will also know how to position information to secure senior executive buy-in. Like many people, Bob’s difficulty maybe in expressing his knowledge or identifying his needs in a way that doesn’t come across as abrupt, bossy or insulting.

While John will be very familiar with technology, using systems like Instant Messenger make many people less dependent on using punctuation, capitals and paragraphs. John’s also part of a Millenial generation and therefore not used to hierarchy, considering senior executives’ needs, and often comes across as too casual.

No:

While both Bob and John have different personal communication challenges, a productive work environment requires they understand how they need to adapt their own communication style to both give and receive / interpret information (written and verbal), and to consider each other’s needs and styles.

Conclusion:

Top 10 lists are important but need to be seen as a means to an end – not the end itself. They are a useful and effective tool to help all people at all levels evaluate what their personal and corporate needs are and where further action (be it training or department wide procedures / policies), may need to be adjusted.

When it comes to training, Bob and John will likely achieve better learning results if they’re able to share, listen and explore each others needs and perspectives in a safe training environment. They have different strengths and weaknesses and through open discussion can be each others mentors / sounding boards. Bob and John’s combined involvement will also help them communicate with other audiences.

So, to help you create awareness of problem areas, here’s an email Top 16 list of email Do’s and Don’ts. As you go through them, circle which may be personal opportunities for changed behaviour and which may be opportunities for people you work with.

Email Etiquette Top 16

These are our main netiquette Do’s & Don’ts.

Do:

  1. Do identify / mention attachments
  2. Do write a relevant Subject line
  3. Do use a friendly greeting, be polite and courteous
  4. Do use spell check, correct grammar & punctuation
  5. Do pay attention to Cc… when replying
  6. Do let the sender know if you need time to reply
  7. Do use a signature block
  8. Do use an out-of-office message

Don’t:

  1. Don’t overuse high priority !
  2. Don’t overuse Cc…
  3. Don’t use Bcc… – unless you are sending to lots of people – then use it to hide addresses.
  4. Don’t overuse Reply to All
  5. Don’t expect an immediate response
  6. Don’t use jargon
  7. Don’t use sarcasm – it’ll likely me misinterpreted
  8. Don’t send time wasters / chain letters

Happy communicating.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

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I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

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About Bruce Mayhew
Bruce Mayhew is a Leadership Coach, Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer who builds strong client and co-worker relationships that give clients a competitive advantage. Our training and development programs include: ■Generational Differences ■Effective Business Email Writing ■Email Etiquette ■Phone Etiquette ■Behaviour Event Interviewing (BEI) ■Mindfulness ■Using Linkedin to Build Client Relationships ■Objective Setting Made Easy

6 Responses to Top 10 Email Etiquette Tips & Team Training

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  5. Maria Stephen says:

    Perfect list of Do’s and Dont’s. In addition to these, the following steps can be helpful to avoid sending Emails without attachment or a subject line.

    Steps:

    1. If there is an attachment, then it is good to attach the file first. This will avoid sending Emails without attachments.
    2. Make sure to mention a perfect Subject line. If we fail to mention a relevant Subject line, there is a chance that the receiver might not notice the Email or sense the importance of it.
    3. Write the message in the body of the Email.
    4. Fill the To field.
    5. Fill Cc and Bcc fields when required.

    Hope it helps.

    • Bruce Mayhew says:

      Maria,
      Thank you for your comment – it seems you may have been in one of my business email etiquette training programs. Some of the points you make are included in a 7-step writing check-list I call ‘The Comprehensive Design Process’.
      A good email best practice is to always attach files before filling out the To… and Cc… fields.
      Best
      Bruce Mayhew
      Email Etiquette & Business Communication Training

I’ll enjoy reading your thoughts and your experiences.

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