Attached is a summary of the importance of email manners
Article originally posted on Medium
Pressed suits or proper dresses, and even in-flight filets were the norms for commercial flying in the ’60s and ’70s. Today, it’s expected to show up to security in your sweatpants, half asleep, wearing a neck pillow.
Of course, back then, flying also consisted of rampant sexual harassment in a cabin full of unfiltered smoke, too. My point is while we may have improved in that regard, some of our etiquettes have waned over the years, such as how we communicate over the internet.
As we rely more on our email communications for many facets of life, we may forget its impact on our readers.
I’ve used email for about half of my life now, for work, personal communication, or that Nigerian guy who needed me to help him with some cash, (which reminds me I need to follow up with him). Just like a conversation, there is a time and a place for informal correspondence.
Unfortunately, many times in a professional environment, I have found myself shaking my head at my screen. It amazes me how adults conduct themselves in their internet letters from poor spelling, bad grammar, or downright rudeness. These days our email platform will switch our ‘e’s’ and ‘i’s’ and capitalize our names for us, but it doesn’t help with everything.
At least when I wrote this, technology did not fix tone, provide clarity, or teach you manners. You can put “Thanks” in your signature, but that is annoying and disingenuous when you double down on it manually; “Thanks, Thanks.”
Sometimes I want to reply, “You’re welcome, you’re welcome.”
Poor communication might not be a big deal for close peers, but when a potential client, customer, or partner receives an email from what appears to be written by a small child, there is an issue.
We might assume that we can gauge our audience and tailor the message as needed. This is true for some people, but lousy etiquette can become a habit for others. When it does, it gets harder to identify and manage.
When messages with such standards make their way to the wrong person, complications can arise. What’s more, we never know when our emails will be forwarded, attached, or get looped into another conversation. This can quickly get sticky, or it may sit in someone’s inbox for months and pop up later.
At times I have scrolled to the bottom of long chains to find someone being outright insulting to others in the conversation, but the offensive sender never thought it would find its way to the person referred to. Not only is this extremely embarrassing, but in some scenarios, such an email could cost a customer or beneficial relationship for an organization. I wonder how many people have lost their jobs under similar circumstances.
Other times senders and receivers can naturally have different personalities, and the tone or choice of words doesn’t translate as intended. Take 2 minutes and read your emails and avoid any chance of sending a potential customer to the competition.
If we don’t care how we come across in external communications, think about how we could be impacting internal team members or co-workers. Depending on the organization, there can be interns or new employees that are fresh out of school and impressionable about their place of employment and the “real world” in general.
Even those who may be interested in joining your organization could get the wrong vibe. You could find an ideal applicant that you need on your team. Is it possible that they lose interest or turn down a position because your email looks like you drunkenly composed their offer via speech to text?
“want to have you on team would you be able to start next wek i need copy of your lisense”
Uh, I think I’ll keep looking, thanks. I admit this is on the extreme end, but I’ve seen things. Sending emails in a seemingly rushed texting style shows the reader you didn’t put much thought into your note or don’t care.
In elementary school, they told us to practice our cursive, because that is all they would accept in middle school. Of course, there was no such standard, and they said the same thing when going into high school and college. Maybe not college, for me anyway. I would have been using Word on Windows 2000 by then, thank you very much.
When those younger people graduate and move into your organization, make it clear that you expect professionalism in emails and that proper writing skills weren’t a cursive myth from college. If you are in a leadership role, set an example for your new employees. They may stay on your team for a while, move to a different department, or become a part of the workforce elsewhere, but you will be the one setting the example.
While wearing jammies on a Southwest flight and sipping a soda that has been rationed between 5 people is acceptable these days, lazy emailing shouldn’t be.