Michael Levin: 15 Key Rules of E-Mail Etiquette and How to Write High Impact E-Mails

July 13, 2018

I consistently hear from my clients how frustrated they are with E-mails.  How many of you experience any of the following?

  • You receive way too many E-Mails to handle or respond to on a daily basis.
  • Being included in “Reply-All’s or “FYI’s” when there is no need.
  • Lengthy E-Mails with too much data.
  • Not getting responses back or responses taking too long, especially when it impacts your customers.
  • Inappropriate E-Mails, either those that shouldn’t be shared or E-Mails sent in the heat of the moment, that end up causing conflicts.
  • E-Mails being sent that damage either internal or customer relationships.

These are just a sampling of the common complaints I hear.  When I teach E-Mail etiquette and how to write high impact E-Mails, to improve both professionalism and productivity, there is certainly much more than just this Top 15 to discuss.  At the same time, I believe you’ll find this list can be a helpful start.

In this article, I’m going to share numbers 1-8 with you on E-Mail etiquette and how to write more effective and high impact E-Mails.

  1. Keep the message short. Ideally 75 words or less.  Clearly if the E-Mail requires more and the recipient has asked for more details provide it.  Otherwise try and keep your E-Mails brief and to the point.
  2. Format your E-Mails so they are very easy to read and, if scanned, the reader gets the gist.
  3. Assume your reader gets 200+ E-Mails per day (as many of you know, this is not unusual). Think about how you write your E-Mail to get the attention you need while being respectful of their time.
  4. Be thoughtful about hitting “Reply All”. Take people off who don’t need to be copied or shouldn’t be copied.
  5. Be careful about sending E-Mails with multiple recipients when, if any of them hit reply all, they may say something that could hurt or ruin relationships.
  6. Re-read your E-Mail to make sure it reads well. Ensure there are no grammatical errors or typos.
  7. Enter the E-Mail address only when your E-Mail is ready to be sent. This can reduce the risk of any misfires.
  8. Be thoughtful about E-Mails you forward. Does the recipient really need the FYI?

In my next article, I’ll provide my rules 9-15 for you.