The other day I realized that we all learned reading, writing and arithmetic from our wonderful teachers across the United States. But when were we ever taught email etiquette?
If you can believe it, the very first network email was sent back in 1971 – invented by American computer programmer Ray Tomlinson. It’s been almost 50 years and the technology has revolutionized the way in which we interact, both professionally and personally.
Admittedly, email etiquette (as it pertains to business) is nothing more than common sense. Keep your tone professional, practice proper grammar and punctuation, make subject lines clear, re-read before hitting send, and the list goes on and on.
Honestly, I’ll forgive bad grammar and even vague subject lines in favor of what I believe is the number one email etiquette mistake of all time, regardless of industry – not replying to emails in a timely manner.
Business environments are all about working together as a team for the betterment of the entire organization. Part of being on that “team” will require your input from time to time in order to progress initiatives forward and adhere to deadlines and milestones.
That may mean an email or two landing in your inbox asking questions, feedback or opinions on thoughts, theories, drafts, etc. Are you really a part of the “team” if you choose to answer that email three to five days after you received it – if at all?
Yes, our personal inboxes can sometimes be filled with unimportant forwards we delete almost immediately without a response. But if someone in the business world is sending you an email – especially one of your teammates – chances are they have a good reason for reaching out to you and expect your immediate response.
But your lack of response causes your fellow employees to think of you as arrogant, self-serving and disrespectful of anyone else’s time but your own, and eventually, your requests will fall to the bottom of their to-do-lists.
We’re all busy these days – that’s no longer a viable excuse as to why someone can’t carve out a portion of their day to respond to emails. More time is not what you need – better time management certainly is.
GlassDoor.com had this to say on the subject of email etiquette: “Replying within 24 hours is common courtesy. Leaving someone hanging for any longer and you’re perceived as rude.”