E-mail Protocol12 Simple Rules to Stay Connected

By: Joy Fisher-sykes
Electronic mail is a quick, easy, and convenient way toinstantly link up with people around the globe. To ensureour messages don’t confuse or alienate others, it’s importantto practice basic e-mail etiquette.  Here are twelve simple e-mail rules to keep you connected and make sure everycommuniqué is clear, polished, and professional.
 
Rule #1 – Be concise.   Follow the KISS rule (keep it shortand sweet).  Get to the point in a clear manner.   Keepparagraphs short - three or four sentences at most.  If youfind you need to send an e-mail that is longer than a fewshort paragraphs, revise the message or consider picking upthe phone or paying a personal visit instead.
 
Rule #2 – Watch your words.  Before sending any e-mail,check your message.  Ask yourself, “What is my purpose forsending this e-mail?"  Anger, enthusiasm, and anxiousnessare all emotions that can trigger an itch only an immediateheated reply can scratch.  Always consciously choose yourwords and be sure every communiqué accurately and clearlyconveys your message.  Be careful about what you say andhow you say it because your words can come back to hauntyou.   Words, especially the written word, can live and beremembered forever.  Don’t say something in the heat of themoment that you can’t take back.
 
Rule #3 – Follow a format.  Every correspondence you sendis a reflection of you and your organization.    Therefore, at aminimum, each e-mail needs to have these elements – agreeting, a skipped line before and after each paragraph, aclosing or call for action, and a signature (which identifiesyou and provides alternate ways to contact you).
 
Rule #4 – Spell check.  While spell check can accuratelycheck for misspellings, it won’t recognize all errors.  Beforeyou hit the send button, check every e-mail for spelling,punctuation, and grammar.   An e-mail filled with multipleerrors is not only difficult to read and understand; it tests thepatience of the recipient, who may decide your message hasno value and simply is not worth reading.
 
Rule #5 – Send messages to your outbox first.  Disable the“auto send" feature in your e-mail software and, instead,have messages sent to the “outbox" first.  This gives you asecond chance to review your e-mail for content and intent.If your e-mail is a reply, you will now be able to reread theoriginal message to be sure you didn’t misunderstand themessage.  When in doubt, seek clarification beforeresponding.
 
As a rule, always wait at least 24 hours before responding toa heated e-mail.  This is often enough time to cool off andthink clearly.  Reread the message and ask yourself if youmisinterpreted the e-mail.  If so, at least now you can hit“delete" instead of “send."  Remember to alwayscommunicate with integrity and respect.
 
Rule #6 – Avoid writing in all caps.  Text written in all caps ishard on the eyes and is difficult to read.  More importantly,all caps in an e-mail SCREAMS at the reader.  Better to writein upper and lower case.   If you need to draw attention to aword, consider using bold or italics for the emphasis.
 
Rule #7 – Reply to all sparingly.  When you respond to amass e-mail (a message sent to multiple recipients), determinewhether everyone listed needs to receive your reply.  If areply to the sender only is sufficient and appropriate, hit the“reply" vs.

the “reply to all" button to cut down on multipleand unnecessary mail.
 
Rule #8 – Stay current.  Just like voice mail, be sure to keepyour auto-reply message up-to-date.  An outdated auto-reply is as bad as dated voice mail – information that servesno purpose.
 
Rule #9– Office e-mail is never personal.  Unless you ownthe company, any e-mail sent via your office computer is theproperty of the employer and is subject to their purview.There is no such thing as personal e-mail at work.  Be awareand watch what you say because every message representsyou and the organization.
 
Rule #10 – Stay organized.  Attempting to save every e-mailcreates clutter.  Get in the habit of saving only necessary e-mails and discarding the rest.  Be sure to delete messagesfrom your inbox, deleted, and sent message boxes.  This willcut down on the clutter and free up much needed computerspace.  Review periodically so you don’t feel overwhelmed atthe sight of months’ or years’ worth of messages.   If yourbox is full right now, commit to reviewing at least 15messages from each box daily until you are all caught up.Also, be sure to regularly back up all mail boxes, just in case.
 
Rule #11 – Answer e-mail.  I can’t tell you how many timesI’ve sent an e-mail requesting specific information only toreceive a reply with half, if any, of my questions answered.This now requires sending a second message to get thenecessary answers.  When responding to an e-mail withmultiple questions, type your response right next to thequestions in a different color font than the original message.This clearly shows your reply and enables the reader toeasily match the response to a question and ensures youhave answered all of the sender’s questions.
 
Rule #12 – Be patient.  With the proliferation of textmessaging, PDAs, and Blackberrys, many people send an e-mail and expect an on the spot response within moments of amessage being sent.  It’s unreasonable to expect others todrop everything to instantly cater to your every whim.When sending e-mail, be patient and allow a reasonableamount of time to pass before you expect a reply.
 
Electronic mail can open up doors to you from around theworld.  Apply these twelve simple e-mail rules and yourmessages will be clear, conciseFree Articles, and always connected.

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