Email Etiquette 101 for the Text-Savvy

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Are you ready for some crazy stats? Pew Research determined the following about our cellular habits:

  • 90% of Americans have a cell phone
  • 58% of American adults have a smartphone
  • 67% of cell owners check their phone for messages, alerts, or calls even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating
  • 44% of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night
  • 29% of cell owners describe their cell phone as “something they can’t imagine living without”

Given this information, it’s probably safe to say we’re all immersed in text culture and could stand a refresher in email etiquette 101, something author Ben Carpenter may be perfectly suited to provide. Following are nine tips Carpenter says every sender needs to keep in mind to avoid confusion and convey the right message, the first time:

1. Read your email carefully before sending it.

It takes only a few seconds to glance back over what you’ve written before clicking “send”—but those few seconds could save you a lot of grief! Specifically, Carpenter advises you to: Make sure you’ve entered the correct email addresses (or phone numbers, for text messages). Confirm that you’ve included all of the necessary information and proactively answered any questions that readers might have. Look for and correct any typos.

2. Avoid using the BCC feature.

The BCC feature allows you to “blind” copy individuals on an email. In other words, if you BCC John, he’ll see what you sent (and may even receive any replies to the email), but the email’s other recipients won’t know John was included. Unless you’re specifically instructed to BCC certain people, Carpenter advises against using this feature because it can often be construed as promoting dishonesty and a lack of transparency. For instance, if people find out after the fact that John was BCC’d, they may feel that you were allowing him to “spy” on a closed conversation.

3. Reply to the right people.

Say that your supervisor emails the whole department and asks for the previous month’s billing for a certain client. In this situation, every single one of your coworkers doesn’t need to know how many hours you spent on which projects; so, it would make sense to avoid clicking “reply all” and reply only to your supervisor. However, say you’re on a ten-person team responsible for completing a project. If your reply to a group email concerns everyone, “reply all” would be appropriate. Don’t over-complicate things, says Carpenter—just use common sense before sending.

4. Keep it brief.

While email doesn’t have a character limit, it’s still a good idea to keep your communication as brief as possible. This will help prevent your email from becoming confusing. Moreover, the recipient will appreciate not having to spend any more time than necessary reading it. Remember: your colleagues and clients want pertinent information, not your version of the great American novel.

5. Get straight to the point.

Dispense with the introductions and preambles. When you’re writing an email, include the most important information at the top. This will enable the recipient to immediately ascertain what the email is about. Plus, points out Carpenter, no one appreciates having to dig through several paragraphs to figure out why someone is writing.

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Strategy Magazine welcomes guest contributing writers to submit their ideas, stories, and articles to our editors for publication on a revolving basis. If you would like to be considered for publication, or you have an idea, contact our editors at editor@strategymagazine.com.

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