email etiquette

Business etiquette encompasses much more than simply knowing how, when and if to hold a door open for someone. It is increasingly vital to polish and enhance your e-mail and texting etiquette skills.


One gaffe or misstep could mean personal embarrassment or losing an account. With more businesses across the world connected to the Internet and relying on e-mail, knowing “netiquette” is important — and could make or break a business relationship.

Here are eight suggestions to remember:

1. Watch Your Words

You may think that what you say is easy to understand, but sometimes, words can be misconstrued. Be concise and to the point. This will eliminate the need for costly long-distance phone calls to follow up on e-mails that need further clarification.

Avoid the use of abbreviations that are common in personal texts. Business emails and texts should always include fukl words, proper spelling and accurate punctuation.

2. Don’t “Flame” People

If you use antagonistic words or critical comments — known as “flames” in cyberspeak — it can hurt people and cause awkward situations. E-mail is not the place to make negative comments. In general, it’s not a good idea to “diss” the competition, and it’s an even worse idea to do so in an e-mail. If there is a problem, resolve it in person whenever possible, or over the phone. Don’t have a war of typed words.

3. Remember, Few People Like “Spam”

When sending unsolicited e-mails, make sure that there is value to the recipient. If you don’t, he or she may very well consider it “spam” and delete it unread. Whenever possible, get recipients’ permission or at least ensure that they know your e-mail is coming.

Even if you are sending essentially the same message to multiple people, edit each message to slightly to personalize, with something relevant to your past relationship, not just their name.

4. Nothing is Private

Never forget that there is no such thing as a private e-mail. Even when a message is deleted, many software programs and online services can access messages on the hard drive. Before you click “send,” consider what may happen if the message is read by someone else — like the boss. The general rule of thumb: Do not send personal or confidential electronic messages. Better safe than sorry. You certainly wouldn’t want a client’s secrets revealed or your off-color joke to be read by the wrong person.

5. Keep Attachments to a Minimum

The larger the attached document, the longer it takes to download, especially if received on a phone. Some e-mail attachments may not be necessary, or they may include large graphics that are not needed by the recipient. Consider delivery large graphical materials as hard copies. Or if time is not really an issue, use regular mail services, UPS or FedEx.

6. To CC or Not to CC

Just as with a regular memo, you may want to send copies of your e-mail to others in the office or other clients as “FYIs.” The same guidelines apply as for flames and spams.

7. Use the Right Form of Communication

Some people like text messages for quick communication; many people think texting is appropriate only for personal use. Find out each person’s communications preferences and use the tools that they prefer.

8. Never Assume Anything

While you may be an Internet pro and familiar with the various emoticons and abbreviations; don’t assume the recipient is.