Email Etiquette - Do's and Don'ts for Email
Dear April Masini,
I love e-mail! I am an extremely busy person between school, my job, and my relationships, so I find my time to chat on the phone greatly lacking these days. I am sitting in front of my computer all day at work and find e-mail a lifesaver. I even broke up with my last lame date over e-mail! But my friends have been complaining that all I ever do is e-mail these days and I'm forgetting how to "really communicate." I feel like e-mail is the way of the future and how much of business is conducted theses days. Shouldn't they just get used to it?"
E-mailing the Future
April Masini's Advice :
Dear E-mailing the Future,
You're right, e-mail is incredibly quick, efficient, and accessible. It's changed lives around the world because of the way it's made communications easier. But communicating through e-mail isn't best in all situations, and when it is, e-mail etiquette is important!
When Not To Use E-mail:
- Never tell anyone about a death, using e-mail. This kind of announcement should be done in person or by telephone. Even a written letter sent by snail mail is better than e-mail -- as long as time is not of the essence.
- Never break up by e-mail. It's just plain rude because it doesn't allow a response. It also invites an angry one-way response, as an alternative reaction. Either way, it's not a very humane way to convey what is usually a painful message.
- Never use e-mail to say "I love you" for the first time. Cowardly is what that is. Those three little words are important -- especially when uttered to a loved one for the very first time. If you are the recipient of that first time message by e-mail, look out for commitment issues ahead!
When To Use E-mail:
- Make plans by e-mail. Meetings, play dates for children, and family get-togethers can all be communicated best by e-mail. In fact, having details in writing -- especially when a bunch of people are involved -- can cut down on miscommunications that may happen with phone calls, missed calls, phone tag, and messages left.
- Convey good news. Unlike bad news, good news is well suited to e-mail. Of course a person-to-person visit or phone call is best, but sometimes, like when a new baby is born, a celebratory mass blast e-mail is the best way to get the news out to everyone fast. It also eliminates anyone's feelings being hurt by getting the phone call announcing the good news last in the phone announcement list.
- Wrap up. Reiterate feelings after an in person meeting by e-mail. The follow up e-mail eliminates a phone call or a letter and while the written thank you note is irreplaceable as a landmark of good breeding, there are times when an e-mail thank you is fine: like when you and friends meet at a restaurant where no one of you is the cook or the hostess for the night. A quick "Great night last night. Thank you for inviting us!" by e-mail is perfect. If you are a guest at someone's home, however, call or send a hand written note.