Knowing and recognizing crappy email habits is the first step to recovery 😉
Have you seen the best email etiquette and habits we shared here?
So let’s look at the problems we as human beings have developed in our many years of using email – literally the greatest innovation to how our species communicates and exchanges information in this world today, in the most efficient manner ever. You’ve heard of Clint Eastwood’s classic Western film “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”? Well instead we are going to take a deep nose dive first into the Bad and the Ugly…then close it off with the Good side of email.
The Bad & Ugly
1) You CC everyone and your mom on an email that is really on an as-needed basis. This in turn convolutes the discussion and many of us are not in practice of understanding the purpose of CC which is to be informed with no further action needed – a lot of times this is never the case and most of the time we are only cluttering the inboxes of our colleagues.
2) Writing out your full thoughts without a concise and direct message that doesn’t waste anyone’s time.
3) Get pissed because you never got a response. Email is an asynchronous form of communication and people are busy. Re-evaluate to see if maybe a response needed was not clear or give the person a reasonable amount of time to read the email and set their priorities to responding. We should never expect an immediate response to an email – if you need an immediate response, pick up the phone or walk over and speak in person.
4) Not letting the other person know you received their email. It is common courtesy to just let the other person know that you got their email. You can be even more awesome if you send an email and put NRN which stands for “no response needed” in the subject line, letting the receiver know they don’t need to reply.
5) Don’t BCC to be sneaky, vindictive or spiteful. Email is not meant to be the tool for throwing people under the bus and BCC’s should be used as intended and most appropriately for introductions where perhaps you thank the sender for the intro and BCC them so they are no longer included in the email conversation moving forward.
6) You hit “Reply” instead of “Reply to All” when the communication is intended to be for all participants in the email conversation.
7) Forgetting to attach a file. Just goes back to taking the time to read your email before you send it. Many email clients like Mailbird will remind you if the word “attachment” is anywhere in the email conversation before it sends. This is super helpful especially when you get in the habit of writing the word “attachment” in your emails if there is one – directing the recipient’s attention to files attached that they should view.
8) Not answering emails when they have direct questions is rude. Be kind and reply, it doesn’t have to be immediately when you receive an email depending on the time sensitivity of the matter but a general rule of thumb to reply within 24 hours is always good to follow during normal Monday through Friday business hours. Auto-reply messages are perfect for this when you will be away for an extended period and will not have access to email.
9) Abusing the word “URGENT!” in your subject lines. If it is truly an urgent matter, find a real time method of contacting that person like picking up the phone.
10) Signatures that go on and on. Keep your signatures short and sweet – no one wants to read a never ending paragraph of favorite quotes and your company description, this simply causes clutter.
11) Using emoticons when not appropriate. Some people say don’t use emoticons, particularly for professional emails – this is where you have to pick up on communication queues and tone. Some people like it when they feel they are talking to a human being with emotions, so a smiley face every now and again, when appropriate is acceptable. However if the person you are emailing is not so keen on sharing emotions via email using smiley’s then maintain that more structured communication method which we would perhaps consider more professional.
That’s 11 bad email habits that we’ve all been guilty of, and there are sure many other email faux pas that have been committed. What are some bad email habits you’ve had? Tell us in the comments below.
This past week we shared on various social channels some good email habits to follow that will make email a whole lot better for you. So here is a recap of what you should do with email.
1) Write emails in such a way that eliminate a never ending loop of back and forth, you might as well pick up the phone and have a real time conversation if you cannot close the final action steps after the correspondence.
2) Take the time to write short emails by giving yourself the 5 sentence rule. Get your information across, if possible, in 5 sentences or less – this forces you to really read through your email and cut out the things that only add clutter and more back and forth correspondence. The goal should be to get to the point and know exactly what action to take next for both you and the person or people you are emailing. Read more on why shorter emails are better here.
3) Use spell check. There is a reason why it is there, so save yourself the embarrassment of seeming sloppy or unprofessional and spell check before hitting Send.
4) Schedule times to go through your email and don’t start the day with email. Instead plan your morning the day before and get started on that plan first thing.
5) Triage your emails so you can work towards inbox zero (a.k.a. clearing out all emails from your inbox) so you take action with them as you go through them during a scheduled time – again not first thing in the morning. To triage you go through each one and either reply, archive or delete the email. It’s all about taking action and not pushing anything off. Triage, triage, triage. Give each message as much attention as it needs and not a second more. Triage – from the French verb trier, meaning to separate, sort, sift or select. Take control of your email, and don’t allow your inbox to clutter.
6) Apply the 4 D’s to your inbox…
– Do it
– Drop it
– Delegate it
– Defer it
Get to inbox zero every day.
7) Only CC people if they need to be in the email convo. The main difference between the TO: field and the CC: filed, is the intent. CC (aka Carbon Copy) should be used when you want to keep someone in the loop but no action is required AND all parties know the address.
8) Use formatting to make your emails easy to scan.
9) Proof read your emails before sending. This will help you cut out pieces that are unclear or unnecessary while also improving those occasional spelling or grammatical slips every now and again.
10) Keep an email focused on ONE topic that can be communicated clearly.
11) Be polite and to the point. There’s really no need for all that extra fluff in your emails. If you are polite and to the point, you are showing you genuinely respect that person’s time.
12) Sometimes it’s better to just pick up the phone and call.
13) Make your email actionable.
Time to make a change if you are guilty of any of the bad and ugly Email Faux Pas. Move forth now with these great tips which are exemplary of what great email habits really are. Share this if you know someone who needs these better email habits.