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Email etiquette – the cost to business of poor grammer and spelling

Posted Friday January 21st, 2011, 9:30 am by

What picture of the sender does an email convey which contains, spelling mistakes, poor grammar and is badly structured?  To me, it’s one of a sloppy person who does not really care, an email written in haste maybe?  For many of my clients such emails can be very expensive especially when the contents are incorrect and they end up in court as evidence.
Alternatively, either a prospect or client feels the sloppy email is a reflection of the service they either are or will receive.  The question which often comes up in workshops is ‘should an email be as perfect as a letter’?  In a word ‘yes’, regardless of whether it is internal or external.  Why worry about internal communications?  They so often slip outside, forwarded carelessly and in haste.

Moreover, sloppy emails often result in more email overload because either you need to read and re-read the email to decipher what the sender is saying or you play endless rounds on unnecessary email ping-pong.  For some of my clients this can be very costly and especially when English is not the mother tongue: shipments are missed, products specifications wrongly interpreted.  Has this ever happened to you?
Here are three tips on good email etiquette for the content:

  1. Write in clear plain English.
  2. No text speak please, the workforce is still predominantly Generation X.
  3. Check not only the spelling but what the spell checker is doing.  (How many people apologise for the incontinence instead of the inconvenience!) 

What are your top tips?  Do you think an email should be as perfect as a letter?

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