Email etiquette is about respect and common sense. The same respect and professionalism you expect others to show to you is also crucial when writing your own communications. Email is a form of communication. Like written letters, telephone conversations, and face-to-face speech, email is guided by etiquette. We use mutual respect and common sense to guide us in all forms of communication. Let's look at three case studies and see how email etiquette can go wrong, and why it's so important to get it right.
An error occurred trying to load this video.
Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.
You must cCreate an account to continue watching
Register to view this lesson
As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 84,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more. Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.
Get unlimited access to over 84,000 lessons.Try it now
Already registered? Log in here for accessBack
Case Study #1
When arguing by email with a colleague, an employee secretly carbon copies (CCs) the boss in a reply without the colleague's knowledge.
What happened after the email? The employee looked like a tattletale and ultimately left the company. Emails may seem like an instant method of communication, like talking and texting. However, like letters, emails are a written form of communication. When writing a hard copy of a letter to a colleague, most of us would not have waited for a reply and then photocopied all of the letters to send to the boss. Email etiquette demands the same rules as letter writing etiquette, in terms of content, grammar, tone, and proper form.
Case Study #2
When confronted with a mass of emails, an employee sends out an auto-response saying, 'Thank you for your email. As I get so many, I will respond as soon as I can.'
What happened after the email? The employee's co-workers stopped emailing her and left her out of the loop. The auto-response came across as arrogant, as nearly everyone gets emails. It would be considered rude to use a telephone greeting saying, 'Thanks for your phone call. As I get lots of phone calls, I'll get back to you as soon as I can.' The same rules apply to email etiquette. That's why you should reply to email in a timely and appropriate matter, just like you use a friendly telephone greeting and return telephone messages quickly to show respect for your colleagues and friends.
Case Study #3
A secretary resigns, after which a colleague sends out an email to other employees asking for a better-looking replacement. The resigning secretary accidentally sees the email.
What happened after the email? The resigning secretary sued, and the case was settled out of court. Almost certainly, a person would not say such a thing when speaking to a coworker, so it shouldn't be said in email either. Email is forever, and when writing a professional email, you're not only representing yourself, but also your company. The next time you're composing a work-related email, ask yourself, 'Would I say this in real life if my boss was standing in front me?' If the answer is no, don't send it. Email etiquette involves the same good manners as face-to-face communication.
Correcting Email Mistakes
Fortunately, the same rules that apply when making a mistake in written letters, telephone calls, or face-to-face communication also apply to email: take responsibility and apologize. If it's something non-catastrophic, like a spelling error, remember that we're all human and make mistakes. Don't pretend it didn't happen, but don't bring attention to it by sending a second email saying 'I spelled something wrong.' If you've made a much bigger mistake, apologize and attempt to correct it. The rules for email etiquette are the same as those for all forms of social behavior and communication. If you make a mistake, take responsibility and try to fix the error, which is usually much better than trying to sweep it under the rug.
Email etiquette involves respect and common sense as well as maturity and professionalism. Common etiquette rules focus on good communication, whether you're speaking face-to-face, talking on the phone, or writing a letter. When practicing email etiquette, keep the content appropriate and respond on time. If you make a mistake, apologize and take responsibility for your communications.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack
Why is Email Etiquette Important?
Related Study Materials
Explore our library of over 84,000 lessons
- College Courses
- High School Courses
- Other Courses
- Create a Goal
- Create custom courses
- Get your questions answered