So much of our daily communication is by email. We email friends and coworkers, customers and clients as a regular part of our day. Sometimes we can forget that our written words can be easily taken in unintended ways. What may be acceptably casual and friendly with friends at the tennis club may appear lazy and poorly written to a client. Quick responses may seem efficient to us, but may come across as terse. And when we get angry and commit those thoughts to email, they can come back to haunt us well after the emotion has passed.
I searched the web for some email etiquette pointers and thought I’d share some of the best ones with you.
A few well placed words like “please” and “thank you” go a long way to make your requests polite. Make sure your email includes a courteous greeting and closing. Greetings and closings help your email seem less demanding and terse. Are you stuck on how to close an email? Here are some suggestions:
- For “formal” business emails – “Yours truly,” or “Sincerely,”.
- For less formal business emails – “Cordially,” or “Best Regards,”
- For email to a disgruntled client/customer/coworker or someone you don’t want to sue you – “Respectfully,”
Don’t be Perceived as Rude
Write emails to be informal, not sloppy. Your email message reflects on you and your company. Use spell check regularly. It’s still important to use proper sentence structure with the first word capitalized and the appropriate punctuation throughout. Using all capital letters looks as if you’re SCREAMING. Using all lower case letters looks lazy. Multiple instances of !!! or ??? in a message are perceived as rude or condescending. If you do this, people will often lose respect for you and not want to follow your “orders”.
Avoid using a rainbow of font colors. Some people may feel this helps emphasize a point, but in reality it has the opposite effect. If you use more than 2 font sizes or colors in an email, it becomes more difficult to read and the human eye has a hard time determining what is most important. A font size of 10 in black is a professional email standard.
Try to keep emails brief and to the point. Just because your writing is grammatically correct does not mean it has to be long. Concentrate on one subject per message whenever possible.
Remember that your tone can’t be heard in email. Unlike face to face meetings or even phone calls, those who read your email messages don’t have the benefit for your pitch, tone, inflection or other non-verbal cues. Sarcasm is especially dangerous and can be easily taken the wrong way. Be matter of fact. Read your email out loud to ensure that the tone is that which you desire.
Don’t use email as an excuse to avoid personal contact. Real estate is a people business. Never underestimate the value of face to face interaction or telephone conversations. Email is not appropriate when sending confusing or emotional messages. Don’t use email to avoid an uncomfortable situation or to cover up a mistake.
You May Regret it Later
And finally, if your email is emotionally charged, walk away from the computer and don’t hit send. Reread the sender’s email again to be sure you are not reading anything into the email that simply is not there. Consider that the email you send can be forwarded to others and may do much more harm than good. Whatever you send is permanent; would you like to see it on the front page of a newspaper or website? Forever?
Hopefully these reminders and tips will help you more carefully craft your future email messages. Emails are an efficient means of communication. Remembering these few points can make your exchanges more polished and professional.
Do you have a few email pet peeves?
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