Does your small business use email as a primary means of communication? Whether you’re emailing colleagues or clients, keep these etiquette tips in mind to avoid miscommunication or major conflicts in the workplace.
Email Vs. In-Person Communication
If staff members work remotely, email is an effective way to communicate. When you work in the same building, a quick walk down the hall is sometimes easier. Email takes an emotion or tone out of the message. People often assume the meaning — and that’s not always a good thing. A simple message may be construed as an insult, causing conflict in the office.
A good way to decide is looking at the purpose of the conversation. Is it a quick reminder or one simple question? Email may be suitable. But if there will be a lot of back and forth to make a decision, a phone call or face-to-face discussion is often easier.
Never use email to resolve an existing conflict. One or more people involved could write something they later regret. But email doesn’t forget and it’s not truly private. One emotionally charged email between coworkers could cause seriously hurt feelings and disrupt working relationships for much longer than the time it took to send the email.
When you email your mom, a simple subject line like “Hi!” is fine. In a business setting, be very specific. Write, “Today’s Staff Meeting” or “Peer Evaluations — Action Required”. The recipients will know what to expect before they even open the message.
Keep going with the specifics in the body of the email. Don’t add fluff that isn’t relevant to the purpose of the email. Get to the point so the recipients know what they need to do with the information. If action is required, tell the recipients exactly what they need to do.
To CC or Not to CC
You’ve likely received a mass email before and thought, “Why was I added to this recipient list?” Be very specific with the recipients when emailing a group. Ask yourself who needs the information. If it is relevant to the whole staff, send it to everyone. If only one group of people needs to see the info, narrow down your list.
The CC feature allows you to easily copy lots of people on one message. BCC is another option in which the recipient list doesn’t actually show. Don’t use BCC to be sneaky about who receives the message. It is best used when you have a large list of recipients. By using BCC, you don’t have a huge list of names and email addresses clogging up the page.
Stay in Touch
Even if email is the primary form of communication in the office, don’t forget the human component. Stop in to chat with your colleagues. Just remember, when you do email, you can’t take it back. Think before you type to avoid an email disaster.