Email Etiquette

Posted on April 14, 2008 by


Knowing a method & HOW OFTEN to communicate with someone online could mean the difference between others wanting to work with you and wanting to delete your email or audition. The purpose of this is to let you in on some established business etiquette for the online world that can assist you in creating profitable relationships.

I know we have all done it at some point, or been the victim of it: Bombarding people with ‘FYI Messages’, and stating every email is ‘dire’ or ‘urgent’, while CC’ing everyone. It is important to remember that just because your relationships in business are wireless, does not mean the annoying people you deal with sometimes will suddenly become less annoying. The convenience of contacting someone is easier, yes, but living & breathing humans are still doing the work. Also important to remember is that when dealing with people over the internet, you have to accept that they come from different cultures, cities, & countries, so do not always expect them to know how your city life works or the market you live in.

As QA Manager of Voice123, and as a talent, I have assembled some helpful tips on how to handle yourself professionally when using the internet, and interacting with clients. We are going beyond simple tips like ‘Do not type in capitals because it reads like you are yelling.’ Certainly, that still applies, but there is much more that can be done to show clients you know how to communicate online.

See below:

1. Before beginning formal email correspondence, take a moment to stop and think, ‘What are you trying to do?’. Make sure that is clear in the subject line. Missing & vague subject lines could be misinterpreted as spam, and this is definitely bad form. We always want our emails to be more effective.

2. As the email conversation progresses, think about updating the subject line of your email. The reason being is psychological. For some reason, the same subject line popping up over and over again in an email begins to make one feel frustrated because it looks like the conversation is not going anywhere & time is being wasted. The harsh truth is that people use internet for speed and progress, and anything else is just wasting time.

3. Emails bring out the worst in people, and many times it is just an accident. We may not even be aware of it when it happens! Things like sarcasm are easily misinterpreted like a bad joke at a funeral. Even worse…due to the anonymity of emails, people become bold enough to start saying things they would not normally say to someone. Emails will sooner lead to anger, aggression, and self-righteous behavior, before leading to someone being kinder & friendlier. The best way to avoid this is to read & write your emails with the respect you believe you would deserve as the recipient. Remember, you are trying accomplish something positive.

4. Emails are convenient for those who wish to avoid uncomfortable conversations, and confrontation. However, using a customer service chat or phone can ease the pain of feeling like one is talking to him/herself, which leads to emails that can be incoherent or angry. If the point of the email is to solve a problem, one must be clear and honest with their intention to get a faster reply.

5. There does come a time when being ‘too polite’ can be annoying. You can always thank someone for something, and they can always say thank you in return. If you begin an email ‘thank you’ war, stop it. Ask yourself, ‘What will happen if I do not send this email?’. If the answer is ‘nothing’, you do not have to send it. HOWEVER, if there is a time when you need to say thank you for something done via email, and it seems that doing it in email is not enough, make that phone call to say thank you personally.

6. You know email conversations/threads are over when you find yourself replying with one word. It means that all that can be said has been said on the subject.

7. You can also stop an email conversation when you know the original email has served its purpose. Many forget that we do not always need to answer everything in an email! For example:

Email 1: It was great working with you!
Reply: Yes! I enjoyed it as well! I hope to be in touch with you soon!
(not needed): That is great! I look forward to hearing from you!)

That last reply is not needed because you are repeating the sentiment. Seeing that third email in the inbox, even if just a couple of words, has the effect of someone being asked to read a book. By not answering, you are also showing understanding that you agree with him & do not need to always get the last word in. As well, if someone sends you an ‘FYI’, it usually means they wish not to hear back from you. By human nature, if someone throws us a ball, we look to throw it back. This is not the case with emails. Some just wish to give info, and not hear an answer. On that note, if you do an FYI email, always be clear in your email that you do want an answer from someone specific.

8. We must all take some responsibility for what people expect from us. If you train people to believe that you reply quickly to everything, they will expect that from you. If you do not reply quickly as you have led one to believe you can, they become anxious or nervous. As well, if you train people to believe that it takes you a long time to get back to someone, they will most likely avoid you in time-sensitive situations. If you do reply quickly, make note of it in the email, so one thinks you are not being insensitive to their requests. You do not want to give a speedy reply to a very thoughtful email, and not acknowledge that it was thoughtful.

9. If you find yourself ready to fight an email battle, stop what you are doing! Take 30 minutes to think before you write back! This will teach you what battles to pick as well, if there is one at all. ‘Cooler heads always prevail’ Written word is forever, so you do not want to lose composure, as people will hold that against you for as long as they have the email, and then some.

10. If your thinking is toxic, it will make someone sick. Before you have an email conversation about something negative, write yourself first & read it. If you have to edit it or if it makes you upset, re-write the email to show you can negotiate a problem to find a solution. Again, write in the style you would like to see written to you.

11. One tip from Voice Coach and Voice123 Premium Member Deborah Sale-Butler: “If you have a conversation regarding some aspect of your project, immediately send (and save a copy) an e-mail detailing the points you covered. For example, ‘Thank you for your time this afternoon. As we discussed, future pickup sessions will be billed at a rate of $(Your rates) per session. . .’ The point of this is to be sure everyone is on the same page and that there is a record of it in writing. Sometimes, if there are many people involved on the client end, details are not communicated and you may end up having to defend your position when the person you spoke to earlier (now under pressure from above) doesn’t remember the conversation the way you describe it! Just keep it professional, quick, and to the point.”

Finally….and most importantly…during an email conversation, remind yourself, ‘People may write you the way that they do because they are unaware of what you find irritating, but that does NOT make the people insensitive or unintelligent’.

I hope you find this serves you. I speak only from experience & what I have witnessed to give you better insight, so that you may draw your own conclusions.

Peace & good luck out there!

Your Voice123 QA Manager,

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Quality Assurance Manager
12 Desbrosses St. New York, NY 10013