Huffpost Business

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Bruce Mayhew Headshot

5 Essential Email Etiquette Habits: Write Smart Emails

Posted: Updated:

I've been writing a lot about time management and the seven habits of highly effective people lately. But, based on a few emails I've recently received, I had the idea to share five essential email etiquette habits and how to write smart emails.

1. Care About the Reputation You Are Building:

Seriously -- every time you hit send, you are only seconds away from making a personal and professional impression. Every single time! So, what impression do you want?
  • Respectful, professional, on-point, knowledgeable, or
  • Bossy, waste of time, long-winded and confusing?

You choose, but the next four essential email etiquette habits will help you write smart emails, and will help you stay in the respectful, professional, on-point and knowledgeable space.

2. Use the Email Subject Line Wisely:

Two weeks ago, someone sent me an email message about time management training. The subject line was: "Today." I have no clue what the connection is for this subject line, but there it was. I'm sure it will only take you a few seconds to scan through your own Inbox to find other confusing subject line examples you've received.

Be smart with your subject line because people use the subject line AND your reputation to prioritize your email to decide if they should read your email now, later or not at all.

3. Be Brief, But Write a Clear Email. Get To The Point:

You certainly want your email messages short -- but you also want your email to be meaningful.

I recently received the following message "Hi -- Please tell me more about your training and how much it will cost."

I love to have prospective clients make inquiries, but I'm happy to offer numerous corporate training workshops to help clients with employee development and increase customer satisfaction. The challenge is that it is impossible to know if this person wants a lunch-in-learn, full day course, or perhaps brainstorming facilitation.

If you are spending more than a few minutes writing the email message and you are having challenges getting to the point and being clear, it's a good sign you should pick up the phone.

4. Don't Send Email You Wrote In a Meeting or When Walking:

Firstly, writing an email during a meeting is rude unless you have permission to send an email that's relevant to the meeting. If you have a creative idea in a meeting, write it on a piece of paper -- that way it looks like you are taking notes relevant to the meeting.

Walking and writing is dangerous -- especially at intersections, or if you are also trying to enjoy a coffee.

You are distracted when you are in a meeting or walking, therefore, the email you write during a meeting, or when you've been walking, are often full of spelling and grammar mistakes. They will also likely have incomplete thoughts -- not clearly describing what you need to tell -- or what your question is.

Any way you look at it -- writing an email when you're in a meeting or walking, and then sending the email, is an easy way to damage your reputation.

5. Re-Read Your Brief Email:

Re-read your email for poor grammar, spelling mistakes and the use of the wrong word. Spell check doesn't correct the wrong work -- I mean word. See what I mean?

Re-read your email from the other persons point of view. What do they know/not know? Have you given them all the information they need? Do they know all of the acronyms you've used?

6. BONUS Habit: Say Hello:

Starting your email with hello or good morning reduces that chance that you'll sound bossy or angry. This clearly improves your personal and professional reputation. So, unless you are emailing the same person 20 or more times each day, go ahead -- make someone's day. Say hello.

Happy communicating.