These are a few things you will want to avoid doing in email because they are either highly unprofessional or just downright annoying to your recipient.
DON’T USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS – This is the equivalent of screaming and it’s very hard to read. It’s the number one complaint that I hear. It also usually says to me that the email sender doesn’t know what they are doing quite yet.
Don’t Say Anything on Email That You Wouldn’t Say In Person or On the Phone – It is the coward’s way out. Also remember that email can be saved and printed out. If it is deleted it can be retrieved from the server later. (I’m sure you’ve heard of cases of AOL pulling up an email from the deep dark past of a person in a court of law).
Don’t Send Flaming or Emotional Emails – Do Not ever forget that email is just words. Even the best punctuation cannot convey what body language or a voice on the phone can. Be very clear and concise. If you’re not sure how what you’re saying will be perceived then don’t send it at all. I’ve had emails misinterpreted and illicit “flamingly” negative responses. Think before you Click “Send”.
Don’t Discuss Confidential Information on an Email – As I said above, remember that it can be saved, printed, easily shared and hacked. Pick up the phone or arrange a meeting.
Don’t Click “Reply All” Unless Your Message is For Everyone – Take control of this. Make absolutely sure you are replying to the sender only. Otherwise, you’ll be annoying everyone else in the email group with an email that simply says something like “Thanks! I’ll be there.” Whey it’s not necessary to see that. The other mistake that is made is that a very personal response between the sender and the recipient is seen by all. Make sure it’s only seen by you and the sender.
Forwarding For the Sake of Forwarding – Maybe you think that all of your friends will think it’s cool and you just click on Forward without a message of any sort. I’ve had friends who I’ve had to remind repeatedly that I’m way to busy to look at every cartoon, cute photo, interesting quote or whatever (use your imagination) that they send me. Remember it’s not communicating. Communication is a discussion between two people. Forwarding is not a discussion.
Don’t Forward Chain Emails – These are emails that ask you to take an action and saying something like “If you don’t forward this to all of your friends bad luck will befall you.” Don’t fall for it. It will annoy everyone you send it to and it’s just not true.
Don’t Open an Old Email and Just Hit Reply – Make sure you change the subject pleeeaaasssee. Make sure the subject concurs with the text of an email. Perhaps you are looking for an old email address the only way to do it is to pull up an old email and then hit reply. I guarantee you that there is always a way to change the subject which means there is no excuse for not doing it.
Don’t Click Reply All and Then Write “Remove Me From This Email List” in the Subject – That’s so embarrassing for the sender and completely not necessary. At the bottom of a commercial email you can click “Unsubscribe” or Mark As SPAM in your email server or you can just send a nice note to the sender asking them not to send you group emails again. This can also hurt your reputation. Suppose some of the people on that email list are critics, jurors, etc? They will think that you are not a nice person and difficult to work with. You will also, most certainly, burn a bridge with the sender who you may want to continue communicating with.
Don’t Use Re: Re: RE: Too Much – if you just keep replying to an email going back and forth with someone it will just keep adding a RE:. Eliminate a few of these or change it if the content of the email has changed.
Don’t Leave the Subject Blank – This is extremely annoying because your recipient won’t know what the email is about. Service Providers can also mark an email with a blank subject as SPAM. 99.9% of the emails I receive have subjects but if they don’t and they are from someone I know, I usually assume their account has been hacked and delete it. Even if you just put “Hi” or “News” in the subject it helps but please be more creative and to the point than that.
Don’t Say “Urgent” or “Needs Immediate Attention” in the Subject – Especially if it doesn’t. Email Service Providers may also interpret this as SPAM.
Don’t Use a Really Long Subject – Keep it short and to the point. I had a friend who would do this when email first became widely used. She would write the entire email in the subject and leave the text area blank. I would miss most of what she said. Then she got more control over it but would put most of the email in the subject and then repeat it in the text area. I knew her and would laugh and pick up the phone. Imagine if I didn’t know her what my reaction would be? Either that the sender was really nuts or unprofessional and I’d delete it without opening it at all.
Don’t Use Texting Lingo – i.e. Ur or Gr8. First of all this can be cause for miscommunication. Not everyone knows what it means and it is, once again, highly unprofessional. I’ve asked senders not to do this repeatedly and on the third ask I usually block them.
Don’t Use Emoticons – These are those smiley faces or symbols that are fun but not to be used in a professional email.
One last thing I want to share with you can send emails to a group of people by using CC: or BCC:
BCC – Blind Carbon Copy is an email sent to multiple recipients who can’t see each others names and can’t respond to them. (They can respond to the original sender, however…that would be you). You might do this to discretely let somebody else in on a conversation, to send to an email list without sharing everybody’s email or involvement with everybody else or any other situation where you or a recipient might desire a bit of privacy.
CC: – Carbon Copy – this is like Blind Carbon Copy only the recipients will be able to see and respond to everyone.
By the way, if you don’t have one already here are a few of our favorite email Service Providers.
Domain Associated Email – this is the best for professional use. Think of it this way – every time you send out an email you will be sending a free mini-ad for your website. It also looks far more impressive and professional. Most website hosting packages will come with a certain amount of domain related email addresses. If not you can certainly purchase one easily.
Gmail – Gmail is email that’s intuitive, efficient, and useful. And maybe even fun and they give you 10GB of storage. I also find that creating folders is easy and their SPAM Filters are just right for me.
Yahoo – Yahoo makes it easy to enjoy what matters most in your world. Not as easy to use but still widely popular
MSN – This used to be Hotmail. It’s good and far preferable to AOL.
AOL – America Online. I have always found the AOL interface to difficult and “antiquated” to use. In fact, I sent one of my clients an image that I’d edited carefully and AOL completely changed everything.
Overall I find Gmail to be the easiest to use of all of the Email Service Providers not associated with your domain name. You may choose to use an Email Service Provider for your personal email and a Domain Associated Email for your professional. This should make your life far easier and set you up for great online success!