The White Report

Catherine White connects and creates worth through powerful story telling

Basic Email Etiquette Can Save Your Job

with 3 comments

Applying basic principals of email ettiquette can save not only a lot of time, but your job.

The recent termination of a New Zealand Accountant, for always shouting at her colleagues via the use of capitals is a case in shouting

She successfully sued her former employer for wrongful termination after being accused of creating ‘disharmony in the workplace” because of her use of capital letters in emails (the e-mail equivalent of shouting)

According to research from the University of Queensland, Australia, the leading cause of stress in the workplace is not the volume of email, but ambiguous language.

CNN’s Andrew Stevens says a basic misunderstanding of email etiquette contributes to work place communication break downs.

Firstly, he says you can tell what level a person is in the company by the type of emails they send. For example, Senior Executives write to the point emails like yes, no or confirmed, whereas Middle Management write longer emails designed to create favor and influence outcomes.

Lower rung employees write chatty emails, talk about activies outside work hours, and write on a more personal level.

With so much work conducted online with Virtual Assistants and via social networks, possessing a grasp of human behaviour, as well as email etiquette can advance your career.

Five of Andrew Stevens Golden Rules are:

DON’T put the senders email in until it’s ready to send

Because the save and send buttons are so close together, it’s a safe bet you can make the mistake of sending an unedited email, so DON’T put the senders email address in until it’s ready to send.

DON’T send emails while consuming alcohol
‘nuff said on that one.

DON’T over complicate your message
eep It Simple Sweetie is a good rule of thumb in all communications, particularly in emails. The less said, the less likely you are to be misunderstood.

DON’T use too much humour
While I like to keep it light, I recognize in certain situations it’s not appropriate. Keep the knock knock jokes for the water cooler.

DON’T expect people to read between the lines.
When I worked in government I wrote press releases with spin and raised Ministerials with diplomacy. While I never lied, I understood the value of well chosen, ‘diplomatic dialogue.’ When email was introduced nuance and tone became critical, which I learned was difficult to transfer in an email.

While the New Zealand employee successfully sued her employer for wrongful dismissal, how much money could have been saved had the company the foresight to include email guidelines in a social media policy.

Finally, since Murphy’s Law often prevails, all company email policies should include the Irish quote “May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far”

Written by Catherine White

September 27, 2009 at 11.27 pm09

3 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on salesgamechanger and commented:
    very helpful article. I spend a lot of time trying to coach my team on efffective e-mails.


    May 24, 2013 at 11.27 am05

  2. Thank you for the valuable information which will help so many people. You will be very surprised the number of people out there who are intelligent yet uninformed. We need to make people aware of how things need to be done when it comes to emails.Many have never had formal training and are just not aware at all.They will not research since they have no awareness in the first place.


    December 18, 2009 at 11.27 am12

  3. Remember as well that if the recipient does not know you personally they cannot “read your tone of voice” into the message.

    When I read emails from people I know, I visualize that person and conversations we have had in the past. I have a reference point from experience as to their meaning and nuances.

    Many people write emails like they speak, but body language and tone of voice convey more than 85% of the meaning. In emails neither are present. If a recipient does not know you they can misinterpret the meaning very easily.

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