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Email Etiquette: How to Stay Professional in a Virtual Setting

When you’re working remotely and mainly using email for communicating with your colleagues and employees, you don’t have the nonverbal cues that set the tone for interactions, such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. Stay professional in a virtual setting with these email etiquette tips: 

Be Intentional

The majority of email etiquette faux pas can likely be traced to a person hurriedly typing out a reply and hitting “send” without putting much thought into it. Whenever you craft an email, you need to do so with intention. Ask yourself if it’s the appropriate channel for the message. And most importantly, always give yourself a break before sending if you’re dealing with a topic/conversation that you find upsetting, so you don’t regret it. 

Respect Boundaries

Just because you have the time to write out an email message doesn’t mean it’s the appropriate time to send it. This is especially true if you’re emailing an employee since the power imbalance may make them feel they have to immediately respond, even during off-hours. Respect the boundaries of your email recipients and save emails as drafts until it is within their working hours, 

Keep Tone in Mind 

Brevity can come across as brusque in emails and leave your recipients wondering what they’ve done to upset you. Keep your tone in mind as you craft emails – determine how you want to come across (i.e., the level of formality) and include the same niceties you would if you were speaking to them in person. After all, it would be considered rude to start barking orders at a colleague without greeting them or asking politely. 

Get to the Point

At the other end of the email etiquette spectrum, you also don’t want to force your recipients to wade through a bunch of extraneous information before they can determine what you need from them. After you have politely greeted your recipient, provide a concise explanation of what you need and when. If you need to include a lot of information, arrange it into easily readable bullet points or bold key dates/phrases. 

Proofread

Perhaps nothing is a more major email etiquette misstep than sending correspondence containing errors, as it signals to the recipient that you didn’t care enough about them to bother reviewing it for typos or other issues. Before you send an email message, always take the time to proofread. Ensure you have not misspelled the person’s name, that it is spellchecked and grammatically correct, and that you’ve included any attachments for which you have referenced. 

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