Posted by: jmwilsonmga | September 27, 2011

Keep It Classy : Professional Email Etiquette

My ears turned hot and hands started to quiver.  There was a tiny little twitch in my eye.  I was ANGRY!!  I had to sleep on it before I responded to the email response of: “yep”.

As the HR Director of a Managing General Agency with just under 100 employees in 9 branch offices, I spend a fair amount of time sending and receiving email.  I understand being misunderstood in written communication, it happens all the time.
So why was I taken aback by the email reply of “yep”?  Because it didn’t follow a single basic respect or common courtesy regarding business email etiquette.

So here are my minimum guidelines to follow in email and why:

1.  Always include a greeting and closing.  Why?  At best, you appear impolite or impatient when you exclude these.  At worst, you appear to be mean, rude and uncaring.

2.  Put a subject in the subject line that matches the body of information (and please use the subject line, it’s there for a reason).  “Urgent!!” should not be used as a subject.  Why? If you continuously send “Urgent!!” you will appear to be disorganized and eventually as someone who is crying wolf.

3.  Be brilliant, be brief, and be gone (a wise man once told me).  Why? People are busy.  Get to the point quickly in the email body and you’ll receive timely response more often than not.

4.  Reply in a timely fashion.  Why?  Even if you aren’t able to get the information needed quickly, a response stating such is respectful.  The sender knows you’ve read the message and you’re working on it.  The guess-work is taken out of the equation.

5.  Email is the property of your company.  Don’t send anything or respond to anything that you wouldn’t post on your boss’s wall.  Why?  Email is forever and can be retrieved even if deleted.

6.  Make it clear as to whether you need a response or if you are just passing along information.  Why? I receive hundreds of emails daily and it is so nice when someone adds “action needed” or “information only” in the subject line.

Other quick tips that most everyone knows:

1.  Don’t use all caps; you are shouting when you do and it is very difficult to read.

2.  Use BCC when you send bulk mail for privacy reasons.

3.  Don’t send chain mail or unprofessional emails to your co-workers.

4.  Skip the pictures and emoticons in business email.

5.  Use proper grammar and punctuation. “K” is not a word.  Neither is “Yep”!

About the Author : Wendy Ballast, Human Resources Manager

Wendy has been a member of the J.M. Wilson Team for over six years and currently serves as the Human Resource Manager.  She oversees all human resource functions including, but not limited to, recruiting and retention, benefits administration, policies and procedures, employee relations, and payroll.  Wendy loves that every day is different.  She loves to travel and is fortunate that she is able to do so, and get paid for it! In her free time (if she has any!), Wendy serves on three Volunteer Boards; enjoys reading with her daughter, Abby; volunteers with the Parent Teacher Organization at her daughter’s school; plays golf; and travels with her husband, Dan.

Connect with Wendy on LinkedIn!

Disclaimer :  This article is for informational purposes only.  There is no legal advice being suggested or proffered.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for the actions taken or not taken by the readers based upon such information.  This article is the opinion of the author and is not supported or endorsed by J.M. Wilson.  It should not be relied upon and may contain inaccuracies or content may have changed over time, contact your underwriter for the most current and accurate information.  Any comments or responses are the opinions of their authors.  Content on this site is believed to be covered under Fair Use.

Copyright 2011 J.M. Wilson Corporation


  1. […] Posts : Read Wendy Ballast’s, HR Manager, take on email etiquette! “Keep It Classy : Professional E-mail Etiquette” Share this:PrintMoreEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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