Manner Monday: Email Etiquette

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Q: “Do you have any etiquette advice regarding emails?

For example, when emailing a professor (you haven’t met in person), do you write it like a letter – “Dear Dr. Soandso, blah blah blah” and what salutation is most appropriate at the end? EX. (Thanks for your time, Sincerely, Hope to hear from you soon, etc.).

When he/she replies if he/she is short without proper punctuation / complete sentences should you continue to write complete sentences or make it shorter to match his/her tone? I am ultimately wondering how formal you should be – if there are any rules about when you can let that wall down in a professional conversation.

Also, if in his/her reply email they don’t address you (the original writer) by name, is it then okay to reply without addressing him/her by name since that’s already been established?

Thanks for your help.” – Kiley

A: You’ve got this! You’re being thoughtful and respectful which are both huge components of Etiquette. Continue to follow your intuition! The most important part of practicing good email etiquette is remembering the lack of body language present. We don’t have the visual or the vocal parts that are important to communication and we’re relying solely on the black and white of the written word – which can easily be misunderstood.

Taking that into consideration, I think you’re smart to err on the side of formality when addressing your professor. By using Dr./Mr./Ms. as salutations and closing with something traditional (‘sincerely’, ‘regards’, ‘thank you’), you’re extending respect to your professor. You can then see how formal they are in their response and adjust your communication accordingly. And you are correct, once you are in response mode; there is no need to continue to address the recipient by name.

Another helpful tip, try to be as succinct and concise as possible, I remember reading an article about how much email we process on a daily basis – it’s crazy! The shorter your message is – the better chances of it actually being processed, read, and of you receiving a response.

Here are some other blog posts referencing Business and Email etiquette you may find helpful.

But ‘hats off’ and ‘kudos’ to you for being aware and willing to take the extra steps to show your professionalism! Keep up the great work!

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Do you have a ‘manner’ or question you would like to see covered in a post?  Feel free to send me your thoughts, I would love to hear from you.

As always;  Thanks for reading!
– Carey Sue


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