3 Email Etiquette Techniques Not Often Discussed

Email is the main source of workplace dialogue – even for people sitting next to each other. This means that knowing and using email etiquette and business etiquette rules is important to our professional reputation, organizational reputation, productivity and organizational profitability.

When we communicate by email it’s difficult to build rapport. The result is that often our email sound abrupt, bossy, angry or like we (the writer), don’t care. This is even more valid when we are typing on a smartphone or tablet.

This means your employees soft skills and emotional intelligence (or lack of), may be alienating their audience… and your investment when you hired excellent talent and trained them is being undermined.email étiquette

Learning and practicing email etiquette and business etiquette rules helps employees write email messages that are professional and engaging – even when they have difficult conversations, say ‘No’, or provide bad news.

Three email etiquette techniques that are almost never discussed when people write about best practices are:

1. Spell names correctly. Names are important – they are personal and our identity, individuality is connected to them. So, it’s important to get them right.

The best way for someone to get the impression you don’t have attention to detail is to spell their name incorrectly.

2. Never use Mr, Mrs, Ms until you are sure about the gender of the receiver. If you don’t know – don’t guess. There are a lot of gender-neutral names like Jamie and Chris. Also, as we experience greater cultural diversity, guessing will surely lead to embarrassing and potentially costly errors.

In addition, avoid ever using Dear Sir/Madam. It appears dismissive and like you don’t care (like junk mail). Your receiver will notice and their opinion of you will not be a good one.

3. From country to country, appropriate email and business etiquette can vary widely. In certain countries, email correspondence is expected to be highly formal, much like a written business letter. In other countries (like America), they are often shorter and more to-the-point.

If you are unsure – stay professional, get to the point and add links to any additional information or attachments… then wait and see what comes back. Do you get formal back, or a short to-the-point message or a casual email? Their response will give you insight into how they communicate.

Always remember email is best used as a way of sharing data, charts and directions. It’s not a great place to discuss choices, brainstorm or build rapport.


Business etiquette and soft skills training is a critical part of all professional development training plans.

When you do write email, get to the point quickly and write in full sentences following proper capitalization and grammar rules. Avoid slang and jargon and always be sure to use the spell-check. While it’s difficult to take the time to re-read you message impartially – try whenever you can… especially for important or sensitive messages.

If it’s a new relationship try to have a quick call with them. This will do wonders to establish a long-term, valuable relationship which can then be carried forward via email.

Happy communicating.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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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

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