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Understanding Proper Email Etiquette

In our current technological age, so much of our daily lives are consumed by email. We conduct business via email, we keep in touch with family and friends via email, and because so much of our shopping is done online now, receipts and records are also stored in our email accounts.

In the pre-email era, we were constantly brushing up on etiquette related to our daily interactions. We learned how to properly shake hands, introduce ourselves, make eye contact, and engage in conversation. Now, with so much of modern correspondence happening over email, the rules have changed. So how should we conduct ourselves via email? What are the new rules? Below, you’ll find three rules for proper email correspondence:

#1: Set specific “reply” times throughout your day.

In order to ensure that all of your emails are being read and replied to (if necessary), designate certain times each day for replying to emails. Jacob Bank, computer scientist and co-founder and CEO of the Timeful calendar app, says, "I do many quick checks of email throughout the day to see if there's something high priority and urgent that has come in, but I only allocate two times a day to fully deal with the email that has accumulated. By batching all of the heavy duty email processing into bigger chunks, I can be much more efficient and reduce the feeling of constantly switching tasks."

#2: Only send emails about unimportant matters.

One of the biggest misconceptions about email is that it is an appropriate way to communicate about almost anything. However, the problem with written correspondence is that you don’t have the opportunity to pick up on important voice inflections, which is a crucial part of communication. Emailing about small matters is fine, but if something important comes up, pick up the phone.

#3: Respond quickly, if an email asks for it.

If someone asks you to respond ASAP to an email in order to ensure that you received it, do just that. It doesn’t necessarily need to be anything long and complicated, either. A simple “got it” or “thanks” will generally suffice. According to Roshini Rajapaksa, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine, Health's contributing medical editor and co-founder of Tula Skincare, “By responding quickly and writing short, non-flowery emails, you can create an image of efficiency and attentiveness.”


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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Dennis Skley

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