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Email Etiquette

Here are 4 common email faux pas that are rude and disrespectful and won’t win you any points from the person you are emailing and trying to impress, such as a prospective new employer. 

We are use to the wild-west atmosphere of online communications, some of which is due to the limitations of the various forms of social media. For example, the 140-character limit of Twitter doesn’t allow for a proper salutation. 

Failing to address the person whom you are emailing. This is rude and obnoxious. It would be as if you just walked up to a person on the street and started talking to him without introducing yourself. If the subject of your email is short and perfunctory you still need to be polite. And while we are at it, don’t forget a proper closing. You would never end a phone call by simply hanging up. So sign off your emails with a proper closing. Even a simple “goodbye” or “thanks” will do.

Asking your addressee to overlook any typos or other mistakes in your text. This tells the person to whom you are writing that he or she is not important enough for you to take a few moments to proof the body of your mail. It also marks you as an unserious, superficial person. 

Being tone-deaf. Email communications, by their nature, are impersonal, which is why we sometimes opt for them as our form of communication. Nevertheless, we sometimes “personalize” them by editorializing with the tone that shows how we really feel. Sometimes, we don’t even realize that we have done that. It could be a scolding tone or a “I don’t give a damn” tone. Just be aware of the effect that your tone has on your message.

Failing to read an email in its entirety. The fact that we are communicating electronically vouches for the fact that we are busy. But there is no excuse for not reading completely an email to which we are responding. Doing so is rude and insulting to the person with whom you are communicating. 

None of us is expected to be a perfect wordsmith. If William Shakespeare were writing for today’s demanding editors, Hamlet might be 5 pages. Just be aware that your emails may say more about you than you intended. Whether this extra messaging is good or bad is up to you.