In this video, learn about some interesting tips on writing emails. The guidelines pertaining to email etiquette will prepare you well for the MBA Applications process.

Email Etiquette

E-mails are the lifeblood of modern business communication. Every day in even the smallest of organizations, hundreds of little digital packets fly out containing all the vital information needed to keep the machine running. Thus, it is vital that we maintain an order within this most intractable part of our communications array. A few simple guidelines on etiquette can help maintain this order and help make the entire experience more pleasant.

Let us begin with the first thing needed when you make an email account, the username. Choose a sober and simple email address. The cheesy and cute ones are not nearly as amusing as you think. Play around with names, surnames, and numbers to get a suitable one.

Next, let us consider the subject. A well put together subject makes for an easier read. Your subject should convey the context of the conversation. To this end, avoid generic ones like “Hi”. Also, avoid replying to the last email. If you have a new conversation you need to start, start a new thread with a new subject. This is because the subject needs to tell the reader what the communication is about. The first letter of every word except for conjunctions and those with less than three letters should begin with a capital letter and the pipe (|) may be used as a logical separator. The usage of the pipe becomes relevant if your subject contains two distinct elements.

After the subject, the first part of your email that will be read is the address, and it will set the tone for the entire email. It is best, to begin with, a nice polite greeting like “Respected” or “Dear”. The same may come off as overly polite to some but it is typically best to seem overly polite rather than insufficiently so.

When writing the main body of your email, choose a font, letter size, and color that are easily legible and pleasing to look at. At the same time, paragraphs should be changed logically when there is a change in the topic being discussed. Further, emails should be kept short and to the point and should end on a cordial note.

When responding to an email, make sure that you carefully read the communication and respond to every point raised within it so you do not miss anything due to misinterpretation. If the context of communication has changed in any way, the subject too needs to be changed. Furthermore, a good practice is to respond to emails within two business days. At the same time, it is considered impolite to follow up any sooner than two business days unless there are really urgent circumstances. Indeed, nobody likes the guy who calls an hour after emailing just to inform about the same. Instead, follow-ups need to be cordially and a phrase such as “Please respond at your earliest convenience”, could be used.

There are also some general bits of wisdom that you should keep in mind while dealing with emails. If you are unable to respond to an email within two days, it is always better to ask for some extra time. One should always ask for more time than needed so as to have a comfortable buffer. In case of a delay, one should always begin the email by offering an apology. Moreover, one should avoid all caps and large fonts, as those let out the connotation that the writer is yelling at the reader. Instead, one should use background colors, and italics to highlight things. These also should not be overused.

Make liberal use of cordial words such as “Please” and “Thank You”. As voice and tone cannot be expressed through text, the usage of such words helps keep the communication pleasant. It goes without saying that one should consciously avoid grammatical errors, typos, and “SMS language” like the plague.

Most important of all, always remember to acknowledge an email. More than anything else, miscommunication and confusion is created by a failure to acknowledge each other’s emails. Remembering to acknowledge the email even if with something as simple as a “Thank You” or “Received” conveys sincerity, interest, and courtesy and removes the anxiety of wondering whether or not the email has been read.

Something else that can help you make your emails more efficient is Gmail setting. There are a variety of features present in your Gmail account that can help streamline your experience. In Gmail, your account can have a signature. If you must have one, make it a sober one just like your username. If you will not be checking your email for whatever reason put up a vacation responder. A practice that helps keep the inbox organized is that of archiving emails. Archive emails once you are done acting upon the same. Thus, the only emails that should be present in your inbox are those have a relevant action item. Also, one should enable the “Undo Send” feature as it gives one thirty seconds to undo the sending of an email, which is highly convenient in the unfortunate situation when an incorrect email is sent out by mistake. If you still find yourself having sent an incorrect email, be sure to send a “Recall Email” message, explaining and apologizing for your mistake and asking the recipient to ignore the email.

By following these few simple guidelines you can make the vital process of email communication much more pleasant and efficient for yourself and for everyone you need to converse with.

Covered by…