Email etiquette

I was watching a kid’s TV show with my daughter and the storyline was that all the main actors had to go back in time to 1989 to prevent a disaster.

The lead characters numerous and very funny attempts to access the internet, which did not even exist in 1989, was a stark reminder how far we’ve advanced in technology and how we take so many things for granted.

For example, writing an email. Did you even know that email is short for ‘electronic mail’ and is modelled on formal letter writing?

Letter writing used to be an art. I remember writing to a friend who changed schools and we took so much care over our words. We wrote neatly, explained what we meant, were polite and most importantly, paid attention to our spelling!

I think that because we’re all so used to using emails and being able to access them from virtually anywhere that we almost take them for granted.

This can be very dangerous. Emails are legally binding, just like letters are, so you need to be very mindful of how you express yourself and ensure that your meaning is clear.

If you are writing emails for work purposes, there is no point where slang, swear words or discriminatory language is acceptable. Ever.

Even if you have emailed someone and you two have been corresponding for a while, there is no call to become overly familiar.

Just in case no one told you, capital letters or bold text are unnecessary and off-putting. Quite frankly, you come off as rude and demanding, and no one wants to deal with anyone like that.

And worst of all, highlighting text or using red text to engage with someone you hope to assist you, is just wrong.

The point of any communication is to share information in order to get a desired result that benefits all the parties involved.

Very often, emails are the first and only point of contact for people, so it is important to remain polite at all times.

When we are inundated by technology all day long and are using the same device to communicate with family and friends, co-workers and business partners, the lines can easily become blurred.

Reading a well-written email is very much like dealing with a well-mannered person in that the experience is a pleasant one. However, you will definitely notice when you are interacting with an ill-mannered, rude person. Remember that when you are composing your next email and see how your communication changes for the better.

By Keshina Thaver