Maintaining Professionalism in E-mail
E-mail has become a convenient and preferred form of communication. Shooting off an instant message is a quick and effective way to keep in touch with clients, co-workers and vendors. But, in our haste to get our message out, are we sacrificing the quality of our business writing?
Follow these simple rules to ensure that your e-mails are effective and professional:
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- Keep it short and simple - Many people receive hundreds of e-mails a day, particularly those higher up in the organization. Therefore, it is important to articulate your point quickly and clearly and be sure you are targeting the right people with your message. No one likes to receive information that's irrelevant.
- Include a subject line or header - Few people have time to scan all their messages to get to the point of the matter. Including a subject line helps your reader determine the subject of the message and determine its importance.
- Maintain message threads - Include the original message in your response to an e-mail. This helps the recipient follow the chain of communication. When responding to a specific thought in the message, simply cut and paste that section in your reply.
- Mind your grammar - E-mail is a more informal form of communication and therefore, grammar rules are usually thrown out the window - don't! Avoid excessive punctuation, jargon and abbreviations in your messages. Above all, check your spelling! Misspelled words are often considered a sign of sloppiness and laziness. Messages with spelling mistakes are often deleted at the outset.
- Maintain formality - Greetings and salutations reflect the tone of relationships. If you refer to the recipient as "Mr." or "Mrs." when speaking with them, they should be addressed that way in your e-mail. When addressing a colleague simply writing "good-bye" may be a suitable close, but not when dealing with your boss. You should close messages to clients or superiors using your title and contact information.