Email etiquette – your email dress code

Wednesday May 4th, 2011, 8:15 am

Do your emails stand out in the recipient’s crowded inbox?  Rhymer Rigby’s article ‘Be authentic:What to wear at work’  in Monday’s FT prompted me to revisit the question of how do you make sure your email stand out in a crowded inbox and convey the right image.

Should an email be as perfect as a letter? 

This question is posed frequently by clients,  of all ages, all sectors and from business of all sizes.   Some argue that email is an informal communication and that more lax rules, grammar, punctuation and layout are acceptable.  Your email sends a signal about you and your business just as clearly as the clothes you wear send a message about you and your persona.  The question then is dress down or keep to the smart business suit.

More often than not you and your email recipient will not have met let alone spoken.   But within five seconds of reading your email the recipient will have formed a picture of you and it may not be the one you wanted to convey.  Nonetheless, it is their picture and it determines the tenor of the relationship.  Sloppy email (jeans and tee shirt) may reflects badly on you because it may suggest both you and your business are sloppy. For some clearly jeans and a tee shirt are acceptable and only you can decide.

Your email must therefore instantly convey the right tone and language just as the clothes you wear create an image of you.  This ’email dress’ code must be carried through from the subject-line and initial greeting to your signature and disclaimer at its end if you want to convey a professional image.  This blog has been based on material  in Brilliant Email: how to win back time and increase your productivity.

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