E-mail Etiquette Case Study

This e-mail etiquette case study demonstrates that sloppy e-mail sends a bad message.

Sloppy and/or aggressive e-mail etiquette calls into question our ability to think clearly and to communicate our expertise effectively. Poor e-mail etiquette also calls into question a writer’s quality of work and awareness (forget care for), THEIR personal and professional brand… and if that’s the case, why should anyone think the writer will care for theirs?

E-mail Etiquette Case Study

The Client Challenge

I was recently contacted by a SVP who was looking for e-mail etiquette training for his sales and operations teams.

As always, I conduced a needs analysis and their challenges were not surprising; they included:

  • Being overwhelmed by the volume of e-mail (overuse of e-mail)
  • Using poor e-mail subject lines
  • Attempting to use humour – which often backfired or the reader read as being sarcastic
  • Sending long rambling e-mail… or only one or two-word

The Client Solution

My proposed solution was a half-day interactive e-mail etiquette training workshop were his teams would learn and practice business and e-mail etiquette.

He accepted the following e-mail etiquette training outline which focused in two (2) main areas:

1. E-mail Structure:

  • Make e-mail easy to:
    • Write
    • Read & Understand
    • Act on (with all of the information you are asking for)
    • When to use To, Cc and Bcc
    • When to use Reply vs. Reply All

2. E-mail Content:

  • Share information a reader needs:
    • Manage reader expectations
    • How to bottom line messages to develop clear communication
    • Decrease misunderstandings and frustration
    • The pros and cons of using humor
    • How to keep from being read as bossy, aggressive or rude

Example Of Poor E-mail Etiquette I Often See

The following example happens to me all the time.

  • I write: “I’m available to meet you at your offices on the 12th at 11AM or the 19th at 3PM.”
  • They reply: “Sure!”

Argh! This of course required more e-mail to clarify.

One or two-word responses beg – and I really mean beg for the reader to guess / interpret… or send more e-mail to ask for clarification… a process that takes more time and puts more e-mail in everyone’s inbox (which becomes a Time Management problem).

If a writers attention to detail is like that with me (an e-mail etiquette trainer), what are the chances that this is ‘business as usual’ for them? Pretty good I bet. Unfortunately, by failing on the soft skills they are making people question their attention to detail, quality of work and professionalism as well as causing more work for themselves (and others).

E-mail Etiquette Case Study Conclusion

Poor e-mail etiquette calls into question a persons respect for their readers time as well as their ability to be organized and prioritize important work. It suggests to clients and co-workers that the writer doesn’t care… or doesn’t realize; either way that message isn’t good.

Considering that 90% of most business communication is by e-mail, your e-mail are a critical part of your brand and your professional reputation. Your e-mail builds trust or tears it down. E-mail is often someone’s first impression of you… and every e-mail you write after that will confirm an impression of confidence, care and respect… or _________ (you fill in the blank).

YOU have the choice to protect and nourish your personal and professional reputation by following e-mail etiquette techniques and writing great, to the point professional e-mail… or… throw caution to the wind. What do you choose?

Happy communication and e-mail writing. 

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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.

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

I’ll enjoy reading your thoughts and your experiences.

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