The average U.S. employee spends approximately one-quarter of their week sending or reading emails. As the recent corruption trials in New York City gain traction we are once again reminded that emails are forever. For example, emails have been entered into evidence during the corruption trial of Joseph Percoco (and others) not just between Percoco and his co-defendants, but also between support staff at the governor’s office commenting on Percoco’s attitude and behavior. In one instance a state worker forwarded an angry email from Percoco to a colleague stating: “We aren’t f-in mindreaders.” Another employee reacted in an email, “WTF?” These emails are now part of the record of the trial. (http://www.syracuse.com/state/index.ssf/2018/01/corruption_trial_top_cuomo_aid_says_no_raise_for_syracuse_developers_son_another.html).
Whether it is an inter-office email or an email chain regarding a serious business matter a good rule of thumb is to never send anything in an email that you would not want to see as an exhibit in court. Here are some other email etiquette tips.
Setting Up the Email
- Do not use your professional email account to send personal emails.
- Add the recipient last to ensure your email is fully proofed and complete before sending.
- Keep the subject line short, to the point, and current with the content of the email (change the subject if necessary in a long email chain or begin a new email).
- Structure – each email should include a greeting, the body of the email, and a signoff or salutation.
- Include a signature line, and privacy warning notice.
The Body of the Email
- Avoid the use of profanity.
- Try to keep your emails brief and on subject.
- Avoid jokes, sarcasm, and other colloquy’s that must be read in context to be understood. Do not criticize or mock people in emails
- Select professional font; the text should be black; keep the font size between 10 and 12 point.
- Proofread! (And then proofread again, and finally proofread a third time.)
- Respond to your emails within twenty-four hours. Even if it is just to let the recipient know when to expect a more detailed response.
- Avoid sending emails at odd hours. Instead, use the delayed send feature in Outlook to ensure your email is sent at the start of the next business day.
- Avoid sending unnecessary emails. Every email represents an interruption to the recipient’s already busy workday, use that interruption wisely and for a purpose.
- For important information stick with formal correspondence by mail.