Improve Your Work Email Etiquette

work email etiquetteWriting business emails is a crucial and routine part of many employees’ jobs.  According to, the average worker spends two and a half hours writing emails in the average workday.  Since email has become such habit for many of us, it is easy to get passive about it and more concerned about our other work tasks.  But the truth is, our work email etiquette says a lot about us and it is important to take those few extra minutes or seconds to make sure we are following the guidelines of effective email communication.  Below are some tips to improving your work email habits:

1)      Get right to the point

Your time is valuable, and so is that of your co-workers, vendors and clients as well.  So try to avoid making your emails long-winded, and if there is an action that needs to be taken make it clear in the beginning of the email.  Use short sentences and paragraphs, and bullet points to indicate instructions when writing business emails.

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2)      Signify receipt

When an email is sent directly to you at work (and not CC’ed), it is proper etiquette to send at least a short response that indicates that you received it and it wasn’t overlooked.   That way, whoever sent it can be assured that you are aware of the information or issue addressed in the email.

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3)      Don’t read too much into emotions and motive

It is easy to want to take an email for way more than what it is.  Effective email communication results from trying your best to simply draw from it the information or directions given, and not attempting to figure out the tone in which it was written.  It can be very difficult to understand and interpret emotions through email, and words can easily be taken the wrong way.  So don’t ever assume someone is trying indirectly use their words to undermine you in business emails.

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4)      When in doubt, pause

If you do receive an email that you feel is negatively directed at you at work, pausing is the best etiquette to use.  Take at least a few minutes before you respond, and allow your emotions to settle.  Responding in the heat of the moment can make the situation even worse as you will risk coming across rudely.   Then, when you are in a calm state of mind, respond in a simple and mature matter and resolve whatever issue is at hand.  Getting in the habit of doing this will make your email communication more effective overall.

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5)      Avoid using “I’m sorry”

People tend to widely overuse the phrase “I’m sorry” so that it loses its meaning.  Unless you really make a colossal blunder (as opposed to a small error), try to hold off on using this term when writing business emails.  What will make an even bigger impact is simply stating how you will fix the problem and prevent it from happening in the future.

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6)      Don’t forget your Auto-Responder

If you are going to be unavailable or away from the office for a long period of time (which usually means more than 2 days), remember to set up an auto-response message that will be sent to everyone that tries to contact you.  The message should simply state how long you will be away, that way you will avoid filling up your inbox with even more unnecessary emails for when you get back.

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Jessica Cody

Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.

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