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Email etiquette – simply stopping email is not enough

Posted Tuesday June 19th, 2012, 10:00 am by

Last week it was the CBI report on the need to improve basic literacy skills which prompted my blog on the dire state of email etiquette.  Simultaneously there was the excellent report ‘e-nough alre@dy from Grossman Group a leading American communications consultancy.  It found that whilst email is perceived as a very effective communications tool many felt email communications needed improving.  In particular email etiquette needed attention.  The break down is shown below.

improve email etiquette

They key issues relating to email etiquette being:

  • Email chains – too many unnecessary back and forth replies;
  • Reply All instead of Reply (only to sender);
  • Too much Cc’d email;
  • Poorly written emails;
  • Over dependence on email when an alternative would be better (eg phone).

This looks just like the list of challenges which we hear when running workshops and asking the question ‘what annoys you about email‘.

Are these results surprising when so few people have ever been trained to use email properly?  What ever happened to all those workshops on letter writing which many of us who belong to Generation X had to attend?

Brilliant Email

‘The Debbrets handbook for email etiquette’ – Jerry Stimfig

Whilst many of us were used to writing social letters, once we started work it was off to learn about the principles of writing business letters.

Email has now become the business letter of the 21st century.  Yet why are so few organisations reluctant to run email etiquette courses?  Those that do are often shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted: their organisation has become part of the latest media disaster or emails are being used as evidence in court.  Poor email etiquette can be very costly.

Budgets we know are tight and so at the very least you could provide your staff with a set of sound email etiquette guidelines.  These should include:

  • Appropriate ways to greet and sign off an email
  • Advice on layout and structure
  • Words and phrases to include and conversely those to avoid
  • Fonts to use

Please feel free to use the Mesmo Consultancy ‘Email Etiquette Checklist’ posted in an earlier blog.  Alternatively we would be more than happy to come and talk about our Brilliant Email Etiquette master classes and how these can help you save time and money.

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