12 Most Don’t Be a Dumbass Rules for Email
I know what you’re saying: email has been around since the beginning of time so what’s to know? Well, yeah it has.
So then… why can’t people get it right? I see emails every day that violate the most basic tenets of communication and disregard simple common courtesies.
Just like social media, common courtesy applies and if you behave in a way that doesn’t fly in real life, you’re probably doing it wrong. If you don’t want to be a dumbass…
You should usually be able to get back to someone within a few hours. If you can’t, let them know you received their email and will respond more fully later. If on vacation with limited access to email, let them know that too. Bottom line — respect people and their time: after all, they took the time to contact YOU! Let them know they exist.
2. Reply all
If other people are cc’d in an email, don’t forget to hit “reply all” when responding. Simple. Otherwise people are left out of the loop and well… you know what you’ll look like then.
3. Get to the point
Nothing is worse than long emails, especially when they’re loaded with verbose redundancies. Emails should be succinct and to the point. Sometimes longer emails are inevitable, but you risk looking like a… you know.
4. Use meaningful subject titles
It’s the most effective way of finding emails later and keeping a tidy email thread. It’s a lot easier to search for an email with the relevant topic named in the subject line rather than trying to find something generic in a haystack.
5. Include your contact info
Rather than forcing more email and wasting time just trying to ascertain basic info, include these vitals at the bottom of every email.
6. Create a branded signature line
Taking the need for contact info one step further, emails are powerful branding touch points, especially if they include your company name, logo, website url and social media links.
7. Never email sensitive subject matter
When you least expect it, and usually at the worst possible time, that little rant you couldn’t resist putting in writing and send to a confidant will unwittingly be passed on. Avoid this potential business and social embarrassment by never sending this stuff through email. Otherwise, you know who’ll be the real… you got it!
8. Save important emails as text files
This is a smart thing to do with emails that you will likely need to refer to or repurpose for another need. For some reason, these are the emails that always have a way of getting lost or trashed. Just save them to relevant folders and they will be there when you need them.
9. Craft emails carefully
A clear, well-conceived business email takes time but saves time in the long run. Good emails can serve as powerful reference documents/checklists for getting a job done quickly and efficiently, especially when multiple people are involved. Bad emails waste valuable time by confusing people and generating more questions and more emails — you know what they’ll call you then!
10. Cover your butt
Forgetting to document the important steps along the way of an important project is a big no-no and can cause serious business woes. An email trail can be very handy when handling delicate business matters and vindicating you if necessary, especially when big bucks are involved and people start pointing fingers. But since you have what you need in writing, you’re covered!
11. Answer all questions
This is a pet peeve, as I often need specific questions answered before I can proceed to the next phase of a project and meet the deadline (usually the same one imposed by the very same person I am emailing!). Answering only some of the questions doesn’t cut it and wastes valuable time with more back and forth when it could have been handled in one email exchange.
12. Write complete, grammatically-correct sentences
This still counts, especially in the business world. Spell out words — texting lingo doesn’t fly and if you use it, you will look like a real… YUP!
So what have I left out? I’m sure there are a few — let me know in the comments below because we all need to do our best in protecting each other from being that most vile of living beings… a dumbass.
Feeling pretty good about yourself? Now lookup “dumbass” in the Urban Dictionary and see what it says.
Featured image courtesy of stock_xchng.
Photo illustration work: Paul Biedermann, re:DESIGN
Article by Paul Biedermann