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E-mail Etiquette – Help Needed


Hi everyone,

After seing some very poor examples of e-mails leaving our office to customers I have been asked to produce a session to improve these.

Does anyone have any new, creative, and fun ideas that they would share with me?
I have not had to look at e-mails before and would really appreciate some help.

Many thanks in advance
Daniel King
Daniel King

7 Responses

  1. if its punctuation …
    It depends on the issues with the email etiquette. If its poor punctuation or capitalisation, then one option is to provide an excerpt of several paragraphs from a novel or book where all the capitalisation and punctuation has been removed so there is just one giant block of words, and challenge the group to replace them. Helps to point out how important they are when you are reading something not written by yourself.

  2. Thank you
    Thank you for those great suggestions and links. These are a great help.


  3. A few pointers
    Hi Daniel

    As a stress management specialist, I’m aware that effective communication is very important. The e-mail is a wonderful tool but communication with it can be very tricky. A few things I find which may be helpful to you are as follows :

    1. As Mehrabian tells us, words are only a small part of the communication we receive. In e-mail, we don’t have the ability to analyse the meaning of the words by tone of voice, body language and so on and so it’s very easy for the intention of e-mails to be misunderstood. It’s a really good idea therefore to read e-mails over a couple of times before pressing the ‘send’ button.

    2. We often respond quickly to e-mails without really thinking about our response and it’s potential effect. Therefore it’s a good idea (particularly when emotions are involved) to think about a response and wait until you can think about things calmly and rationally rather than to crash out a quick response and create the wrong impression or worsen a situation.

    3. We also often think that because we have sent an e-mail, it has been received. if it’s something really important, it’s a good idea to follow up with a phone call to make sure your message has been received as this can save time and confusion in the long run.

    4. It’s good to recognise when e-mail is appropriate or when it would be better to walk over to somebody’s desk or to pick up the phone.

    Hope these snippets give you a little help.

    Good luck with the session.

    Best wishes

    Annie Lawler

  4. e-mails are not text messages
    I think that abbreviated messages (SMS, MSN and personal e-mails) and predictive text have become the most serious threat to the integrity of the English Language. All professional e-mails should be properly constructed, punctuated and spelled.
    Why not name and shame! and then create a space on the intranet and run a monthly competition for the best worst e-mail. (you would have to vet for commercially or otherwise confidential material)
    In my experience, status and e-mail capability often have an adverse proportionate relationship! Perhaps we need to rethink our core competencies for senior management?

  5. Email Examples
    One of the ways we have taught this course is to provide actual examples of this poor emails (without names of course) and then show examples of good emails. You could collect some from other companies as well, or write your own and let students tell you why they are “bad” and how to fix. I would also recommend creating templates for standard replies and teaching how/when to use and modify them.


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