Email etiquette – what grinds your gears?

IT Hints and Tips

Email has become an essential part of everyday communication. Some people love it, others hate it, but there is no getting away from it. Personally, I think email is a useful tool, working virtually it is a key part of my communications with my clients. That said, there are a few email habits that do make me grumble, here’s a list of my email pet dislikes.

Sending an email and chasing with another email one hour later copying in my ‘boss’ to elicit a response.

Would you send a letter by post and chase the recipient one hour after popping it in the post box? It is a slightly different scenario, but I still find the notion of chasing for a response to an email, by email, within an hour as ridiculous as chasing for a response to a letter that has only just made it in to the post box. I don’t necessarily have my various inboxes open all day. For my sanity, most of my desktop notifications are switched off. Personally, I think urgent warrants a call, with or without an email – I can find out if the person can deal with my enquiry and make an immediate decision about what to do if they can’t.

Sending an email at 5pm and chasing for a response at 9am the next day.

This really goes hand in hand with the above dislike. These days, flexible working is a lot more common. You may work a traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 but your email recipient may work part-time or reduced hours. If you send an email at 5pm and chase it first thing the next day, they may not even have made it in to the office between you sending the email and chasing for it. While we can all access work emails from our various devices anywhere at anytime, not everyone does.

No signature, no contact phone number, no idea how I can get hold of you!

Having a corporate email signature, whether you’re a small business or a large one, looks professional and indicates how else people can contact you. Sometimes, I find it easier to speak to someone about an email – it can save time, they can hear my tone of voice and I can hear theirs, and sometimes, it’s nice to chat to them. Especially if it’s a contact I deal with regularly, it’s a great way to build a positive relationship with them.

Is there anybody there?

The auto-reply or out of office message is a great way of managing people’s expectations. If someone doesn’t reply, you know why. If I have a day of meetings, or I’m going to work off email, I use my out of office settings. It’s a great tool but there are so many people who don’t know how, or don’t want to, use it.

I know you’ve read my email…

I am not a fan of read receipts – they are a useful tool, but I really don’t like it when people have it as a default setting. There are also lots of ways where the read receipt response can be inaccurate, for example, if the recipient uses reading panes for their emails, they may read the email without the email appearing as ‘read’ then delete it – but the read receipt logs it as deleted unread. I may read your email and not reply immediately – I may need to speak to someone about it or I might need to do another task to be able to provide you with a more accurate response. Generally, if I’m not going to get to it for a couple of days, then I will let you know and give you an idea of when I will reply. It is a useful tool when used appropriately, I just don’t like it when it’s someone’s default email setting!

These are the email habits I’m not a fan of – what are yours?


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