Email Etiquette: Six Tips to Dominate Your Inbox

There were quite a few responses to my post last week, I Didn’t Email You Back Because I Wanted to Personally Offend You.

Fittingly, many of them came to me via email. And many were quite good.

I’ve pulled together some of the best ones, with hopes that they might help you (or enrage you!) in your quest for true email etiquette domination.

Without further ado…

Six Tips for Email Etiquette (from you readers):

1. On Salutations:

I highly recommend you encourage readers to say hello, hi, buon giorno, anything that gets the ‘hello’ across (especially when they’re asking for something!). It’s easy, it’s nice and it warrants a response other than ‘Why should !?!’

2. On Writing a Good Subject Line

Make your subject heading useful to the recipient.

3. On Not Saying the Wrong Thing

Never email anything you wouldn’t mind having on the front page of the newspaper (you never know when someone will forward the message or who knows what).

4. On Not Receiving a Response

In the business world (the one inhabited by fast-moving strangers asking questions) has a Cardinal Rule: If you don’t receive a reply, the answer is “No.”  People don’t call back to say,”No.”

5. On Using the Phone (!)

If it’s slightly tricky or a very nuanced message where you want to make sure not to offend, pick up the phone!

If what you need to say is too long and complicated, pick up the phone! In other words, keep emails short and to the point

6. On Keeping the Peace

Thich Nhat Hanh advises to “write in such a way that the other person is receptive toward reading”…

There are pacifists who can write protest letters of great condemnation but who are incapable of writing a love letter. You have to write in such a way that the other person is receptive toward reading; you have to speak in such a way that the other person is receptive toward listening. If you do not, it is not worth the trouble to write or to speak.

To write in such a way is to practice meditation.

These are great tips, and aside from the tips about picking up the phone, I pretty much agree with all of those. For more on why I recommending avoiding 90% of all phone calls, see my post next week…;)


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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