In today’s workplace there are often generational conflicts, none more so than in the way people communicate. For example, to a baby boomer, ‘communication skills’ might mean formal writing and talking on the phone, but to a millennial, it might mean e-mail and social media.
The purpose of email in the workplace (as we all know) is to send, give or confirm information. However, perceptions of what’s appropriate when writing emails vary widely. Some tact and thoughtfulness is necessary. Email etiquette refers to the principles of behavior that should be adhered to when writing or answering messages.
Baby boomers are accustomed to writing business letters that tend to be more formal and, at times, a bit long winded. They equate this formality as a sign of respect. Younger generations in the workplace can often be more casual with their email messages and may sometimes hastily write them.
One thing is for certain, your e-mail behavior is a direct reflection of you and has the potential to sabotage your reputation both personally and professionally. There are workplace tenets that should be observed by all generations to maintain good email etiquette. Here are some tips:
- Company emails are never private. Think twice before hitting the send button on a overly critical or angry email.
- Emails should be responded to promptly. Business leaders usually expect responses within 24 hours.
- Use email to convey a quick message, such as confirmation of a delivery, setting up a meeting or the sharing of an idea. A reasonable length for an email is perhaps two or three complete sentences. If anything needs to be further discussed, it should be done in person or over the phone, so be sure to indicate that in the email.
- Don’t use email for a last minute cancellations of meetings, lunches, interviews or the delivery of bad news.
- When writing a concise email, don’t be too hasty. Concise does not mean that you should respond with one-liners, like “Thanks,” and “Oh, okay”. Write “No Reply Necessary” in the subject line when you don’t anticipate a response immediately or at all. Avoid using acronyms, slang or jargon and never use smiley faces or emoticons. These have a potential to make you look less than professional.
- Good grammar and punctuation are often overlooked when composing your email. Grammarly is a great free tool that helps ensure your emails are free of fundamental grammar issues.
- Use a brief subject line that’s descriptive of the core contents of your message. Your subject line should match the message.
- Use good judging when addressing the recipient. Depending on who it is, you can either use a formal or informal greeting. Formal greetings such as, “Dear Mr. or Ms.” or informal greeting such as, “Hi” or “Hey” are each appropriate depending on the person. Either way, the formality or informality of your email ending should match the tone of the greeting.
- The tone of the mail should be friendly with simple punctuations.
- Use “cc” and “reply all” for multiple recipients sparingly.
- Make certain your email has a signature with contact information, your title and your company name.
- Proofread subject lines, sentences, closing, and your signature each time.
- Workplace emails should be seen as a reflection of your professionalism regardless of your generation, which means that every email you send adds to or detracts from your reputation.
It’s all about communicating in the right way, at the right time, with the right message.
I invite you to share your passions, experiences, thoughts, or comments. You can email or call me for more information on soft skills/interpersonal skills workshops that can transform employees at: firstname.lastname@example.org