The 18th Rule of Email Etiqeutte

See below…

Last week I was in Chicago visiting our main technology provider.  I had a great day with these guys.  At lunch one of them made a comment that made me rethink something I do all the time.  So thanks Vishu.  You have given me the 18th rule of email etiquette.

iStockPhoto by SquaredPixels

iStockPhoto by SquaredPixels

Last year I wrote a post called the 17 Rules of Email Etiquette.  Before I give you the 18th rule, here is a recap of the other 17.  These definitely bear repeating.

  1. DON’T USE ALL CAPS – just hard on the eyes, is it not?
  2. Sarcasm doesn’t translate
  3. Email is a poor medium for bad news
  4. Don’t reply all! – my company does this too much, and I’m falling into the habit.  That ends now.
  5. Use property grammar (revision – I used property there instead of proper – kinda Freudian, no?)
  6. Use the spell check
  7. Re-read before you send
  8. Understand the permanence of email
  9. Don’t be a jerk
  10. Proofread your emails
  11. Keep your emails brief
  12. Don’t email angry – I did this last week and definitely regret it.
  13. Please don’t forward chain emails
  14. Refrain from using ‘high priority’ – if it is high priority, call.
  15. Craft an appropriate and descriptive subject
  16. Complete your signature
  17. Be pithy

18 – It is lazy to forward an email to someone else without your comments.  How often do you forward an email with just a comment that says ‘See below…’  I do this all the time.  When we do this we miss the opportunity frame the information and share our thoughts.  If it is important enough to forward to someone else’s inbox, take the time to tell them why in your own words.  Otherwise, they just have to guess.

So I ask you – how often do you forward an email without stating why or giving context?  What would your 19th Rule be?  Leave us your input in the comments below.

Top 5 Productivity Posts of 2012

This is the second of the three Top 5 posts you will read this month on theBarronBlog - (click here for the first.)  Today’s Top 5 is around the theme of productivity.  Growth in this area simply means that you are more efficient.  You can get more done in less time.  With more time saved, you can improve your work/life balance – be a better spouse, parent, or friend.  Invest in your relationships.  Live a healthier life.  You can do it, and the posts below can help!

top5

But First…

Before you get to the posts below, I want to remind you of my favorite discovery of 2012 – The Dollar Shave Club.  This ingenious company produces a great product at an awesome price, and ships razors to your door every month.  No more over-paying for razors.  No more spending time at the store buying them.  I endorse this product 100%.  Guys, do yourself a favor and check it out for yourself here.  Ladies, my mom as well as some of my friends’ wives have signed up their husbands – great gift idea!  Click here for more info (this is an affiliate link, but I do not recommend anything that I do not use myself.)

Top 5 Productivity Posts of 2012

The 5 Steps to a Paperless Office – The key to pulling that off was having a paperless office.  All my data is in the cloud.  All my data is accessible to me anywhere my iPhone has a signal.  I can access it on the fly.  It means I can jump on opportunities with lightning speed.  And speed kills.  Read more…

How to Shave 30 Minutes a Day Managing Email – Email has now become a drug, and we are addicted.  As a major form of communication in the Commercial Real Estate industry, many CRE practitioners feel like they must check their smart phone every five minutes.  Show of hands:  who checks their phone before they even get out of bed?  Guilty here.  Read more…

The 17 Rules of Email Etiquette – My biggest beef with email is its ability to interrupt me.  The nature of my business requires me to be doing multiple things.  I am not a natural multi-tasker.  I much prefer to hone in on a task and focus all my energy on it.  I rarely get to do this.  I am also easily distracted.  The ding and notification that announces every email can cost me 5 – 60 minutes if I let it.  I routinely get 200+ emails a day.  That equates to 200+ opportunities to be distracted from what is important to what is less important but potentially urgent. Read more…

My Tools to Manage Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day – Let me clarify.  In one of my previous posts – The Rule of Thirds – I shared the 3 types of tweets that you should be using:  curating original or other great content, engaging with others, and getting a little personal.  The key to the first category of curating original or other great content is getting the tweets done and scheduled at one time.  Read more…

The 7 Rules of Conference Call Etiquette – Alas, the conference call is still sometimes a necessity.  On a recent call, there were 2 different people trying to lead the call (one of them was me).  There were over a dozen people on the call from 4 different time zones.  I couldn’t tell who was speaking.  People were talking over each other.  It was a free-for-all.  Read more…

So as we wrap of the year, what are the areas in your life where you have seen the most growth in productivity?

The 17 Rules of Email Etiquette

I recently wrote a post on how to manage your email inbox – you can read it here.  I’d like to approach it from the other side.  What kind of effect to do you have on everyone else’s inbox?  Are you a spammer?  Do you reply-all constantly?

Many of us work with or for large companies.  We have access to large email lists.  Understanding email etiquette is so important to protecting the culture of an organization as well as guarding productivity.

My biggest beef with email is its ability to interrupt me.  The nature of my business requires me to be doing multiple things.  I am not a natural multi-tasker.  I much prefer to hone in on a task and focus all my energy on it.  I rarely get to do this.  I am also easily distracted.  The ding and notification that announces every email can cost me 5 – 60 minutes if I let it.  I routinely get 200+ emails a day.  That equates to 200+ opportunities to be distracted from what is important to what is less important but potentially urgent.

Before I get into the rules of etiquette, here are a couple of suggestions to prevent email from derailing your day.

  • Turn the notifications off – I really appreciate you taking the time to read this.  But stop reading right now and turn the notifications off.  You really don’t need to see an email the instant it arrives.  If something is a true emergency, you won’t be contacted by email in the first place.  Turn off the pop-up notification and the audible ping.  Watch your productivity go up.
  • Schedule specific times to check your inbox – The nature of your business will dictate this, but I suggest checking your email once or twice in the morning and then again in the afternoon.
  • Set your phone, iPad, etc. to silent or vibrate – I can get email on my iPhone, iPad, and computer.  Turning of the notification on your computer does you no good if you still get “beeped” by your other devises.  Be consistent.

Before I starting listing “rules,” understand that I’m simply codifying manners and common sense.  If we all were to implement these into our use of email, our collective email experience would vastly improve.

  1. DON’T USE ALL CAPS - It reads like you are shouting.  I don’t like it when people shout at me.
  2. Sarcasm doesn’t translate – I am fairly sarcastic.  However, it is nearly impossible to pick it up from an email.  You need context and the ability to hear voice inflection.  Just the facts, ma’am.
  3. Email is a poor medium for bad news – I’ve heard this many times.  If you are just delivering sterile facts, a document, or good news, email away.  To simply inform quickly at no-cost, email works perfectly.  For bad news, however, make a phone call.
  4. Don’t reply all! – Remember how I was talking about being distracted?  Ask yourself before you send, do I really need to potentially interrupt all of these people?  99% of the time, the answer should be no.  Let me repeat – NO!
  5. Use proper grammar – UR not txting.  Use proper punctuation and grammar.  You represent yourself and your brand.  This is a no-brainer.
  6. Use the spell check – This is a no-brainer.  It is just too easy to do.
  7. Re-read before you send – I should probably put this last as it is the last thing that you should do before you press send.  Spell check won’t catch words that are spelled correctly but used incorrectly.  I often drop out words and you probably do as well.  Make sure what you send out reflects well on you and your company.
  8. Understand the permanence of email – Never send an email that you wouldn’t want on the front page of the paper.  Emails are so easy to forward.  They are easy to save and search.  I can go find an email I received years ago.  Think about how potentially damning an email could be.  Be especially careful when reply to a group email chain.  You can really get in trouble if you have negative content and ‘Reply All’ on accident.  Ask yourself, “If this ever gets out, can I live with the implications?”  If not, revise your email or just don’t send.
  9. Don’t be a jerk – If you are a jerk in an email, you are memorializing this fact.  You greatly compound this fact if you act like a knucklehead by replying all to 850 people.
  10. Proofread your emails – I don’t do this enough. This is right up there with leaving your zipper down in a client meeting – just not a good idea.
  11. Keep your emails brief.
  12. Don’t email angry – A number of times, I have written brilliant emails in response to circumstances that have made me angry.  Most of the time, I have hit delete.  I strongly suggest that you give yourself time to cool down before you respond.  You will always be glad that you did.  And there won’t be a record of your momentary rage-induced dumb-attack.
  13. Please don’t forward chain emails – At least don’t send them to me, please.  They add more clutter to my inbox, and they aren’t true anyway.  Microsoft is not sending you a check.
  14. Refrain from using “high priority” – There used to be a local broker that always marked his emails high priority.  They never were.  In fact, it was like he was saying that he demanded my attention because he was so important.  That probably was not his attitude, but it came off that way.  He used CAPS a lot, too.  Not a good combination.
  15. Craft an appropriate and descriptive subject – I must confess – I don’t read every email I get.  There are just too many.  I triage on the fly based on two factors:  who is the sender and what is the subject.  Be specific in the subject and your messages will be read more.
  16. Complete your signature – This is a common sense courtesy.  If you are connected via email, chances are that you will need to speak at some point.  Make it easy for people to contact you.
  17. Be pithy – Pithy means brief and to the point.  Don’t waste your recipient’s time.  If you are including a bunch of information, give them the headline first.  Don’t make them read 500 words just to get to the point.  People are busy and time is our most valuable resource.

What email etiquette rules did I forget?  Which one’s do you violate the most?  I invite you to share you comments below!