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Why Proper Email Etiquette makes a Difference

Updated on December 15, 2015

There is nothing more annoying than receiving an email that is full of grammatical or spelling errors. If you are a Human Resource Manager, you will find poorly attached resumes irritating. You will also fume if you receive an irrelevant email because someone added you to a CC (Carbon Copy) loop carelessly.

In this digital age, emails are a necessary form of communication. They make transferring documents quick and convenient. Instant communication forms, many take them for granted. Good email etiquette makes a huge difference to business and personal relationships.


Why proper email etiquette makes a difference

Emails communicate messages the way letters do, but their effects reach further.

These electronic messages have the potential to escalate into conflicts, due in large part to their CC, or Carbon Copy section. This section allows the writer to include others as recipients of messages. An email written to communicate frustration can turn into an unpleasant tussle. More people are aware of its surrounding circumstances and may express their anger.

Poorly written emails are not constructive. Used as a weapon, an email can complicate instead of resolve an issue.

In this information era, people want results and answers instantly. They tend to write emails that are too short. Recipients may perceive them as brusque, which sours relationships.


Common Email Ettiquette faux pas

Job interviewees and, quite surprisingly, professionals, forget proper email etiquette. This is due, in large part, to many people viewing the email platform as for informal, rather than professional use.

1. Formality

This perception often results in many of them using colloquial language in email letters, even when communicating with their superiors. They forget important etiquette matters, like using salutations. This mars the impression others have of them immediately.

This said, do not use honorific titles like Mr, Mrs or Dr if you are emailing a person whom you address by his first name.

2. Using "To Whom it May Concern" could show that

Using this phrase in an email shows a lack of meticulousness. In this era of instant communication, it is easy to get in touch with a person-in-charge almost straightaway. It takes a person little effort to find out who that is.

3. Leaving the subject line

Each time you start a new email conversation, remember to change its subject line. If you have labeled your email "marketing", you will confuse someone if the conversation is about publishing.

4. Putting everyone in the CC Loop

At times, you may include everyone in the CC Loop of an email, forgetting that not everyone has involvement in a project. You may also hit "reply all" and include people in an email conversation that is not relevant to them.

5. Forgetting details

Everyone expects instant gratification, and emails are quick communication tools. You may exclude important details in emails if you try to send them off too quickly.

6. Including personal details

Remember that few people are interested in knowing what happened to your sister or grandmother in an email. Share your personal details with others on another platform.

7. Forgetting tone

Writers need to make sure that their readers understand them. They must also use the right tones in the right settings. Over-friendliness in a professional email may raise questions about your competence.

8. Asking unnecessary questions

Message threads are tiring to read, and many people skip the earlier emails in the thread. They ask questions relating to those earlier emails, forgetting that the sender already addressed the subject. Again, do not do this, as it may result in questions about your meticulousness.

9. Asking inappropriate questions

Many professionals neglect the social context of emails. They forget the professionalism that underlies many of them. At times, they ask questions that are inappropriate. Avoid asking about a colleague's personal life.

10. Using emoticons

People use emoticons liberally when sending text messages, These often encapsulate the feelings of a person, saving him the trouble of typing long phrases.

While emoticons are charming, they limit the professionalism of business emails. Avoid using them when sending important messages to your colleagues.

What is the worst email mistake you have come across?

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Proper email etiquette : some tips

Few communication methods surpass emails in terms of simplicity. Though they are easy to write, bear a few pointers in mind when doing so.

Remember that the subject line of an email should describe its contents. Make it clear. The person who reads it should know what it is about immediately. A subject line that says "Meeting" does not say as much as "Meeting to discuss the Reach Project."

Email programs like Gmail allow their users to include electronic signatures with their mails. An electronic signature indicates that the user is a professional.

One important, but often neglected key to writing an effective email is to send it to the right recipients. Email senders often forget the people in their CC loops.They either overlook including them, or forget who they are. Address emails to the correct people. Misunderstandings ensue if the wrong people receive them.

Remember that email communication is immediate. You cannot retract an email. Make sure that you edit your email as you would a letter. You have few chances to write an effective business email, so use a friendly, concise and professional tone.

Proper email etiquette : Words you should avoid in emails

Email etiquette is a tricky business, because you will never know whether you are breaking rules or being annoying. Trying to second-guess a recipient's thoughts can cause intense frustration.

Before you set about writing that important email that your boss simply must receive, have these five words in mind. Avoid them at all costs, because they undermine your professionalism.

1. "Just"

"Just" undermines your authority. While you may not want to cross your boss' or subordinate's boundaries, you must still stress how important your needs are. Avoid phrases like "Just checking in" or "Just a note", as they tell the reader that he can put the matter that you want him to attend to on the back burner.

2. "Hopefully"

Exclude this word, as it casts doubt immediately. By saying that "I will finish, hopefully, by tomorrow," you are telling the email's recipient that you have no control over the situation. Needless to say, he will start losing faith in you.

3. "Actually"

Avoid using the word "actually" in emails, especially when it makes no stylistic sense. Many email exchanges have the words "but actually" in them. Though the reader probably knows what the sender is referring to, the words may distract him.

4. "Kind of"

The phrase "Kind of " is colloquial as it is non-committal. The first thought that comes to any person's mind when reading them is that their writer is not sure of himself.

5. "Sorry"

Apologies are often unnecessary, unless you know, with certainty, that you have made a major mistake. If you have, a phone call is far more sincere than the phrase, "Sorry for the late reply."

Raise your business profile and enhance relationships with properly-written emails.


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    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      4 years ago from USA

      Be nice to our web-footed friends, for a duck may be somebody's mother.

      (Smile) Gus

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very useful and important hub!

      You have made some valid suggestions here. Proper email etiquette is a prerequisite to effective and impressive communication.

      Great hub, well presented! Thank you!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I am so glad that you did this piece. Quite honestly, I have always been annoyed with the emoticon, no matter what kind of e-mail or text message, or what-have-you. To me, e-mail should be treated just like postal mail, and there will never be a problem. The only "new" thing with e-mail, is that you can "cc" everyone that you require to know the data in question. Great work!

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      5 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      These are excellent tips. One thing that I find exceptionally frustrating is the lack of a reply when sending an e-mail to others. In following up after the fact, I often find that people have read my e-mails, but did not bother to let me know. Now, when I feel the need for a reply, I will ask for it.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting and informative. So much has changed.

    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 

      5 years ago

      A perfect guide for the professionals and non professionals alike. Thanks for sharing Mitchell. I agree with you that in today's advanced era phrasing... To whom it may concern... looks awkward. But you can't negate it totally as in some cases it manifest the universality of approach.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      5 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Proper Etiquette is sadly becoming a thing of the past, and at a time when we need it the most. You've done an excellent job of reminding us how important it is to use the proper etiquette even in our modern age of electronic communication. An Interesting and useful hub.

    • whonunuwho profile image


      5 years ago from United States

      Nice work my friend and I really like your froggy. Telephone or Tale-a phone...whonu

    • mackyi profile image

      I.W. McFarlane 

      5 years ago from Philadelphia

      Very informative, and rather, quite useful!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Totally agree....proper use of language...proper etiquette....those are staples of people who are serious about communication and their careers.

    • manatita44 profile image


      5 years ago from london

      Excellent Hub! Many salient points for us all, and most importantly, quite useful for the one seeking a job interview. Written and expressed very well. In Love and Light.


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