by Heather Lochner

Out of curiosity, how many times have you received an email that has left you shaking your head in bewilderment? Wondering, “what the heck is she thinking?” Or to be less diplomatic – “why is she being so rude?” It happens to me on a fairly regular basis. You see, I have this friend who has no clue how to properly converse on email.

Her lack of proper email etiquette usually happens when we have group emails. It starts off innocently enough. Someone sends out an email saying “Hey everyone, has been ages since we have seen one another. How about we get together for dinner? Here are some dates, and I think we should try such and such a place out.”

If not initiating the email, I am usually one of the first to respond. My email usually says, “Fabulous idea. Here are the times that work for me. Thanks for getting this going and I can’t wait to see everyone.” Others usually respond in the same vein.

And then my friend weighs in with an email saying something like, “Doesn’t work for me.”

And I sit there, reading her response wondering – what the heck do I do with that? Do we plan without her? Offer up some new dates? My first reaction is usually anger. I want to see a “Thanks,” or “Great Idea, but…” I want her to offer up a solution. Not leave us to guess what to do. After my frustration subsides, I move to “oh well,” and hope the rest of us continue planning. But I always wonder, why? Why are her responses so limited?

Until I realized, she really doesn’t know any better.

After much thought I have come up with the following five points to remember when emailing. While they may seem obvious – for some they are new knowledge.

1. Email has no tone. It is up to you to set up the feeling of the email.
2. Using all capitals can come across as yelling, not enthusiasm.
3. Re-read what you wrote and make sure it sounds okay and not insulting.
4. When sending out an email to a large group of people, use the BCC function. Not everyone wants their email address publicized.
5. Don’t use email to avoid a situation. Face-to-face communication is always the best way to go when expressing something personal.

I’ve found that following these simple tips makes my use of e-mail much more effective in both my personal and professional lives.


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