Beating a dead horse: 3 email etiquette pet peeves   Leave a comment

Email etiquette<Thwap!>


Ladies and gentlemen, that is the sound of me beating a dead horse.


I don’t want to do it any more than you probably want me to do it. But it must be done. These issues persist so I feel compelled to vent my anger bring these on-going issues to light. What am I talking about? Which dead horse am I beating? It is none other than…

…wait for it…

email etiquette. <cue large sigh>

Yes, we are once again (and still) discussing the rights and wrongs, the dos and don’ts, the ins and outs of email etiquette. Keep in mind that this diatribe is geared towards a business audience (if you use Outlook, this means YOU). Like all things, the rules can be bent with friends and certain relations. So without further ado I bring you my latest woes and recommendations for the betterment of all geek-kind.

  1. STOP WRITING ENTIRE SENTENCES IN ALL CAPS! NOW! See what I did there? Wasn’t fun, was it? It’s not any more enjoyable when the subject line of every email I receive from you IS IN ALL CAPS. Doesn’t make me answer any faster either. In fact, due to the involuntary wince that occurs every time I see your email I avoid it. So stop.
  2. Please write a subject line that tells me something about why you are contacting me. Blank subject lines, or things like “hey” or “Help!” or “marketing question” tell me nothing and once again do not inspire me to jump to your aid (okay, the “help!” one would–if I didn’t have half a dozen others just like it sitting in my Inbox). Help me help you: be descriptive in your subject line.
  3. Consider your recipient’s point of view. This where the “rational communicator” in me really comes out. It doesn’t matter what you intended (“I didn’t mean for it to come across that way.”). What matters is how your reader will interpret it. The point of email is to communicate and communication is a two-way street. Otherwise you’re just, um, blogging. BONUS TIP: If you get called out because someone took something the wrong way, just apologize for the misunderstanding and…stop. No excuses, or reasons, or defenses. You’re done at the apology. Move on.

Whew! That felt good. Now I can step off my soap box, stop beating this dead horse, <insert additional appropriate cliché here>, and continue about my life.

What email etiquette faux pas do you continue to see on a regular basis?

Image credit: AnnabelVita via Flickr


Posted September 2, 2011 by Lindsay N. Ball in Communication

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