One of the most frequent means of modern communication is electronic mail (e-mail); the ability to send messages from one person to recipients via computer. This medium has been widely abused and misused, and most of the blame lies with a lack of information about things to avoid when using email. There are things that people do while using this facility that puts off most recipients. There are hundreds of do’s and don’ts, so in this article I’m highlighting some crucial things to do with email usage. I have used emails for over a decade. This is one of the best ways to communicate but, like any facility, it is subject to abuse and misuse. Abuse has always been seen to arise from situations where the purpose of the installation is unclear. Email will be with us for some time, so there is a need for users to practice etiquette so that everyone who uses it will enjoy doing it.
1. Quickly open emails and reply – It is very frustrating to send emails and not get a single response. One will start to wonder if the emails were sent or just delayed. There is no need to reply to an email to confirm that you have read all attachments, etc. You can reply to simply say that you received it and you will read it in more detail at a later time. It gives the sender peace of mind. While I encourage you to open emails quickly, be careful with suspicious subjects and attachments so that your machine doesn’t get infected with viruses.
2. Be clear about what you want to communicate – Long winding emails never grab the reader’s attention. Get to the point faster to make sure people read and understand your point in the fewest words. I’m not advocating that you start using jargon and abbreviations in email. People have just been busy due to increased demands in the workplace and in life in general. Your subject should match what you have in the body of the message and the attachment. Avoid misleading people through an attractive theme and body of text, but the attachment falls short of expectations. Always be sure to fix your email, double check to see if everything you wanted to say has been said. It’s annoying to write four times on the same topic and add a little more information with each email. People will tend to wait for version four of your email whenever they notice a trend. Be clear in your email if it is for someone’s information or for your action.
3. Organize and manage your emails – When you’re organized, you become more efficient with your emails, making it an exciting experience. The first thing I do when I open my mailbox is to select all the spam or junk mail and mark it as such and send it to the trash immediately. I also create folders to store emails in different categories. To automate the archiving process, I create email rules that help put emails into different folders without my interference. Emails that I find no value in are also immediately deleted to make room for them to be useful. You will definitely find that doing this will allow you to handle hundreds of emails without any sign of fatigue. To avoid forgetting to follow up on emails, I often mark emails as Unread so they keep getting my attention. It helps me stay on top of things as I can’t stand unread emails for too long. It amazes me when I see people with 400 unread messages, the important messages are hidden among the not-so-helpful emails, so deadlines are missed, appointments are postponed, etc.
4. Be careful how you address yourself – Know who you’re sending the message to, who you’re carbon copying (cc) for information, and who you’re carbon copying blind (bcc), which means they get a copy of the email and yet other recipients don’t find out. When distributing a newsletter or sending an email to hundreds of people, always Bcc the addresses. Spam emails are being sent all over the web because people unnecessarily reveal each other’s addresses. It can be annoying. Similarly, in the event that you receive an email from someone who was copied to 5 other people, use the reply option to send a reply to the sender, not reply to everyone. Reply All will send your reply to everyone who received the email. Use reply all in situations where it is absolutely necessary.
5. Email format and accuracy are important – It is important to note that email is simply a replacement for the usual handwritten letter in the old days. People used to be very cautious about the format of their letters before. Now, even with tools and utilities available to format emails well, check spelling, grammar, etc., people still send erroneous and plain emails to recipients. Always check your spelling to make sure you communicate what you originally intended to say. It is easy to communicate otherwise. Scanning your email using just your eyes won’t help you eliminate the errors your mind is blind to. Sometimes walking away from the email and coming back after a few minutes will reveal the entire error to you. Refrain from writing ALL CAPS YELLY or all small lazy letters, as both communicate an attitude. Avoid multiple colors in your emails. It’s not about the decorations and background, but about the message. Avoid emoticons as much as possible, especially in business-related emails. Funny looking fonts can be annoying as they make someone take longer to read an email. Avoid them.
6. Proper management of attachments is necessary – From time to time, you may want the recipient to have access to an attachment. Do not assume that all recipients have the same version of programs to open attachments. Save attachments in a format that can be opened by any version of the program the recipient has. Large attachments should be compressed for easy movement. Some servers truncate huge attachments, so your information is not received. Always send a separate email to confirm receipt of large attachments. Not everyone has a high-speed Internet connection to download. Never assume that because you know the sender of the email that you can trust its attachments. Viruses usually come attached to emails, so when the recipient’s machine is vulnerable without antivirus protection, it gets infected after the attachment is executed or opened.
7. Watch out for those Forwards – Evaluate the benefit or usefulness and validity of an email before forwarding it to others. Some “special offers” etc. they are simply hoaxes or spam. You may not know what the emails will trigger in the people you send to. The quality and types of emails you sell have an impact on how people view you. Always take the time to write a personal comment to accompany the email so that the person receiving it knows that you have read it and what you want them to do. If you can’t write the comment, you shouldn’t bother resubmitting it. Be careful when forwarding emails of a political or sexual nature. The people receiving the email may not appreciate your “generosity”. At the companies I’ve worked for, we agreed that anyone found selling nudity and sexual humor would be banned outright or face disciplinary action. No commercial material is a waste of commercial resources. You may not have originated the message, but seeing 30 messages (even inspirational ones) being forwarded a day seems outrageous. Avoid sending mass emails to people who did not request that service. I know how I feel when I get those bulk mailed items, so I don’t seek to do it to others.
8. Practice email courtesy – In the event that you send a message that you later realize is a hoax, be courteous enough to send an apology. Sometimes you can send a message that means one thing, but recipients can read it in a different context and spark outrage. Don’t add insult to injury by responding angrily, just clarify what she meant. There is no reason to use the email system to fight wars of words. There is no such time to waste. Before you get upset about “people not responding,” check your trash or spam folder in case replies were automatically archived by mistake.
9. Handling emotional email – Emails you write while emotionally charged sometimes lead to regrets. Unlike a letter that after writing it you have time before reaching the mailboxes; once you hit send, it’s hard to remember the message in most cases. Always take a step back and ask yourself if the answer you are giving will be consistent the next day. Wait until that day and send the message. You will find that many spikes will drop as they miscommunicate or cause the recipient to develop a communication barrier. Human beings are emotional beings. Any statement you say can easily have 8 different connotations being read by 8 different people because they are largely from different backgrounds and experiences. They also have different levels of emotional strength. Beware of statements that may trip the opposite sex, such as “Lots of love, I miss you, lots of hugs and kisses.” Be sensitive to the recipient.
10. Final advice – Just because you have someone’s email address doesn’t mean you can share it with anyone. If someone wants the email, look for it on your own. Avoid using your business email address for online subscriptions. Use your private address as the business email address should be for business only. Protect your email by forwarding a copy to your private address. Even if your machine is stolen or damaged, you’ll still have a backup of your emails. You never know when you’ll need proof of sending an email. It may be the email you use to exonerate yourself from being charged or sentenced in a court of law. When using your business email to submit a contribution or opinion, always include a disclaimer that your opinion is not that of your employer; otherwise, use the personal email address to send personal views and mindsets. The last thing you need is your employer’s domain being blacklisted.