Email Etiquette

Growing up, I though I was the only one who despised the telephone and detested the though of what troubling stranger could possibly be on the other end of that intrusive ringing. When I was a young teenager, we actually used to have to hold a conversation with a parent or sibling of our friend before we could speak with them on the phone, which at the time, was the only method faster than sending a letter. Even though that bygone time was only a decade ago, the technology of communication has advanced at such a rapid pace as to make it sound as if I came of age while corsets were going out of style. This technological supernova expansion rate proved I was not alone.

First came the dawn of email and instant messaging, a way to reach my friends more quickly, get a message out to someone at odd hours and avoid those awkward silences that come with talking to a stranger or distant friend in person. We thought we had it all. Then cell phones came on to the scene. Finally, no more impersonal, ill interpreted internet conversations, now we could speak directly to someone with all of the character and emotion that comes with a human voice. If only we’d had this technology before! Although text messaging technology walking in on the curtails of the cell phone, it took a relatively long time to catch on. After we overcame the scary newness of this elderly-outing communication technology, we thoroughly embraced it for saving us from all of that inefficient talking. Now with the advent of social media, there is no turning back for us.

Unfortunately, all of this glorious technology meant to make it easier for us to communicate comes at a great cost, that is, it is destroying our ability to communicate. One problem we’ve come up against is a serious lack of email etiquette. Unlike the standardized rules of letter writing, the etiquette of email writing has not yet become ingrained in our subconscious, or really even had time to be fully developed. Luckily, there are some tips you can put into practice to improve the way you communicate with email, and to some extend, with other electronic mediums as well. Just like on the phone or in a letter, most people like to see a proper ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ in the emails they receive, otherwise they tend to see the sender as rude and abrasive. Again, like when you write a letter, people prefer to see proper spelling, grammar and sentence structure in your emails. Though most people don’t mind a few popular internet acronyms in more colloquial situations, there is certainly no place on the internet for text messaging shorthand. With the absence of tone of voice and body language, proper punctuation is a must. I’m sure we’ve all experienced, at one time or another, how a misplaced comma can change the meaning of a sentence. However, proper commas and an overuse of the ellipsis does not give you license to ramble. If you have a smart phone and you use it to send a high volume of important emails, you should include a disclaimer in your automatic signature stating that you are sending a particular email from your smart phone, as more mistakes and typos are made when from them.

It is generally agreed upon that no one should ever include any GIF anywhere in their emails, not only are they unprofessional, but they are incredibly irritating. Emails should be written in one easy to read colour and font, at a reasonable size. This is neither the time nor place to get fancy.

A situation that comes up often when working in an office is the mass email. When someone sends you an email that was “carbon copied” to many other inboxes, you must make sure that you do not hit the “reply all” button, which sends your response to everyone who received the initial email instead of the person who sent it. Another button you should be wary of is the “send all” button, which can be a source of much embarrassment and hilarity.

Above all else, the most important manner to remember when using email is to reply in a timely fashion, as even the most exquisite email, received a week late, will go unappreciated.

As a young blog writer who’s about to commit to a life of loving a computer programmer, I spend a lot of time on the internet and, consequently, I’ve notice a few things. One of them being that young people today don’t have as much time to learn cruel lessons such as: the things you say and do in the present can negatively influence your future, as previous generations. I pity the children of today, I’m sure I made a lot of ridiculous spelling mistakes and outlandishly foolish remarks in my time but they were in safe and private environment of trusted friends, the kids today don’t have that luxury. All of the things we said – or were afraid to say – in person, on the phone or on paper when we were young are, for the most part, safely locked in the past, today’s generation makes their immature errors in emails, over instant messaging and on social media websites, where not only are they there for all to see, they are there forever.