Email Etiquette and Productivity

For all the popularity of blogging, social networking, Twitter, etc., email is still the killer app (or at least the workhorse app) for building and maintaining relationships virtually.

And yet, so many people use it so ineffectively, or at least so much less effectively than they could.

I was recently interviewed, along with with several other experts on email communications, for Newsday for an article on email etiquette. The consensus of the experts:

  1. Pay attention to the subject line.
  2. Get to the point.
  3. Check spelling and grammar.
  4. Answer emails promptly (although I have to admit I have a hard time with this just due to sheer volume).
  5. Be careful about forwards.
  6. Treat every e-mail as if it’s for public consumption.
  7. Personalize your e-mails.
  8. Account for tone.
  9. Don’t let e-mail replace the human touch.

For more details, see Email Etiquette Tips at Newsday.

On a related but slightly different note, have you ever had this experience:  you send someone an email with two or three questions in it, but they only reply to one of them?  And then you have to email them back, restate the question, so on and so on, and the whole thing takes three times longer than if they had just answered all your questions in the first place?

I have a solution, which I just wrote about over at GTD Times:

There’s a Time and Place for Long Prose – Email Is Rarely It

In it, I share and explain one of the top email communication tips I use myself and with clients, and it’s the first time I’ve shared it publicly. Check it out, and I’d love to hear your feedback if you try it.

For more tips on email etiquette and productivity, see chapters 13 and 14 of The Virtual Handshake, which you can download for free or buy at Amazon or the usual outlets.

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Comments

  1. Hi Scott,

    thanks for sharing this !

    E-mail is one communication medium next to telephone, face to face conversations, instant messaging, online networks and many others.

    They all have their own spot in the communication mix like you mentioned about e-mail and long prose.

    What I always tell the people in my training courses is to forget about your own favorite communication medium.

    For example: I hate text messaging, but I know that my best friend doesn’t answer his phone, replies to e-mail a few days later, but answers within 20 minutes to a text message.

    So my advice: use the favorite communication medium of the person you want to reach.

    Jan

    Founder of Networking Coach (http://www.networking-coach.com)

  2. Ellen McDonald says:

    The links to the Newsday article did not work on Nov. 6.

  3. yes, but that doesn't prevent free speech does it? You still have your freedom, you can't say it there. but you stillhave your freedom…simplistic I know…but all of us have rules and regs…nothing we can do about that.

  4. people use it so ineffectively, or at least so much less effectively than they could.

    I was recently interviewed, along with with several other experts on email communications, for Newsday for an article on email etiquette. The consensus of the experts:

    Pay attention to the subject line.
    Get to the point.
    Check spelling and grammar.
    Answer emails promptly (although I have to admit I have a hard time with this just due to sheer volume).
    Be careful about forwards.
    Treat every e-mail as if it’’s for public

  5. spelling and grammar.
    Answer emails promptly (although I have to admit I have a hard time with this just due to sheer volume).
    Be careful about forwards.
    Treat every e-mail as if it’’s for public consumption.
    Personalize your e-mails.
    Account for tone.
    Don”t let e-mail replace the human touch.
    For more details, see Email Etiquette Tips at Newsday.

    On a related but slightly different note, have