7 Email Habits to Ditch to Improve Business Etiquette

by Guest blogger
Leading People - 4 years ago

Editors Note: This is a guest post by Brooke Cade – a freelance writer with Workfront. Her opinions are her own.

In 2010, research showed the average corporate worker received 110 emails a day, and since then, the numbers have continued to grow.

Today people are so overwhelmed that 63% of marketers consider overflowing email inboxes to be one of the top four inefficiencies in the workplace.

However, it isn’t just the high volume of emails that are the problem. Poor communication, especially through email, can lead to a decline in productivity and damage trust.

Take some time to improve your communication and be more effective at work by stopping these 7 annoying email habits.

1. The Reply All

No one wants (or has time) to open multiple emails that have nothing to do with them.

If you’re responding to an email sent out to a group, be sure you are only hitting “reply all” if your reply is truly necessary for everyone to receive.

If you are sending a simple “thank you” email, only send it to the intended recipient and let everyone else get on with their work day.

Not only will your co-workers be relieved to not have an unending chain of irrelevant emails in their inboxes, but you’re less likely to send something embarrassing or private to your co-workers as well.

2. The Essay

In the workplace, an email isn’t an appropriate medium for a lengthy conversation. Workfront senior content manager, Marcus Varner, suggests people think more like copywriters when writing emails, including specific and clear calls to action.

If you’re email ends up having various components and is packed with lots of information, consider giving the recipient a call. This will not only save you a lot of time, but this ensures you’re both on the same page when it comes to the project.

You can always send a follow up email, if needed, highlighting key points from the conversation.

3. The Urgent Email

If you have an urgent question or problem, the phone is the best option for getting an immediate response.

Many people treat email as an instantaneous means of communication. Just because an email is sent now, doesn’t mean it will be read immediately.

In fact, it could take several hours before it’s ever opened. A general rule of thumb, if you need something done within a three hour window, pick up the phone, IM, text, or use any other instant form of communication your office software allows.

4. The Sneaky CC

Beware the carbon copying (cc) of supervisors to inform them of an issue with a customer or colleague.

Even with the best of intentions, this form of action can backfire. One slip of the mouse and your secretive conversation is revealed to the very person who just learned why their ears were buzzing.

If you have an issue with a colleague, be upfront and ask if you can invite your supervisor in on the conversation.

Your openness will help to foster solutions, rather than worsen the problem, and you can avoid betrayal by that sneaky cc option.

5. The Exclamation Point Explosion!!!

No matter how excited or upset you feel, or how much emphasis you would like to add to a statement, there is no excuse nor is there any grammatical justification for using multiple exclamation marks.

According to Barbara Pachter, personal career coach, it’s easy for people to get carried away in their use of exclamation points but, in the professional world, this can appear too emotional or immature. Use exclamation marks sparingly and limit yourself to one, if the occasion calls for it.

In the end, a single exclamation point can really pack a punch!

6. The Premature Send

You’ve probably received one those emails.

The cut off in the middle of a sentence-in the middle of a would-be cohesive narrative- that just trails off into the void.

These emails are usually followed up with an “Oops! Didn’t mean to hit send,” or the “One more thing!” message, leaving the recipient confused as to which email they should respond to. Accidental sends and multiple afterthought emails fill up an inbox quickly.

Take a minute to go over your message to ensure you said all you needed to before sending.

One tip to ensure you don’t send a premature email, remove the recipient’s email address until you’re ready to send. Not only does this not clog up someone’s inbox and ends those half-messages, but gets your point across the first time.

7. The Email is Everything Attitude

Email is fantastic.

Ask anyone who relied strictly on fax machines, snail mail, and interoffice memos.

But it’s not meant to be used for everything. If you find you’re using email to keep track of completed work tasks, manage reviews and approvals, and track project progress-there is a better way.

Only use email for non-urgent and asynchronous communication with coworkers.

For everything else, look for a cloud-based project management solution that allows you to:

  1. Prioritize and track progress on your projects
  2. Collaborate with colleagues in the context of your current tasks
  3. Easily issue assignments to others
  4. Manage reviews and approvals
  5. Produce instant reports
  6. Create and duplicate schedules and project types

Email is an excellent resource. However, when we use email ineffectively through the annoying habits listed above, we’re only adding to the problem.

Help create a more productive workplace by being mindful of the emails you’re sending out. Not only will your co-workers be grateful for the decrease in spammy email, but your own productivity will improve.

About the Author: Brooke Cade is a freelance writer with Workfront. When she is not writing, Brooke is committed to learning more about helping businesses and marketing professionals succeed with their project management goals.