At this point, even my mom knows not to forward chain letters, use an email address like email@example.com or WRITE IN ALL CAPS. Here some refreshed email etiquette rules I wrote for her and my coworkers.
New rules for emailing:
1. There is never a good reason to change the subject line.
2. If action is needed within 24 hours, start email with URGENT and drop the recipient a text message, instant message or phone call.
3. If the discussion shifts to an entirely new topic, start afresh. (see #9 for why this is important)
4. If your email is really short (<15 words), put EOM at the end. This way I know that I’ve read the entire email in my client’s preview window. I don’t need to actually open the email. Super helpful when reading emails on a phone.
5. Everytime you use ‘Reply All’, a kitten dies.
6. Rule of thumb: If the email is more than 2 paragraphs long, pick up the phone.
8. Avoid “I agree” emails. Too short and too annoying.
9. Email is not private. Never include anything in an e-mail that you wouldn’t want TechCrunch to get a hold of. Assume your personal e-mail account will be hacked someday. Remember that e-mail can be forwarded to unintended audiences, sometimes on accident by people you trust. I’ve accidentally sent messages to the wrong Scott that said mean things about the other Scott. That was a terrible day. Shit happens – especially if don’t follow Rule #3.
10. A tip from the salesman: If you want someone to do something for you, call them. Saying “no” is much harder for most people than typing no.
11. Just like headlines, email subject lines are extremely important. The key to getting your messages read is not to be clever. Mailchimp has a tool for this.
12. For large attachments - http://ge.tt
13. Stop using email to avoid people. You KNOW when you should be calling or meeting face to face. You know. Don’t say you don’t know – you do. E-mail is one of many communication options and can be confusing when trying to deliver complex or emotional messages. If you have a problem with someone, talk to them in person. Don’t use email to avoid confrontation or to cover up a mistake.
14. Never, never, never – send an email when you’re angry. Breathe deep, cool off, wait a few hours or even a few days before clicking that send button.
15. Always, always, always – edit your email. Read it aloud. Double-check that you’re spelling names correctly. Include any helpful links so the reader doesn’t have to go Googling for it.
16. Your tone can’t be read in an email, and smiley faces don’t fix that. Be careful with sarcasm. The other party might not see it that way. When in doubt, throw it out.
Bonus tips for teams and companies
1. All email must have a call to action
2. The action item must be bulleted or numbered, and preceded with “Action Needed:” This is to prevent action items from being lost amidst a long email
3. Everyone in the TO: line should have an action item. If you don’t have an action item for someone but you think it is important they know about the e-mail, Cc or Bcc them, but try to keep this to a minimum. The general rule of thumb should be – if you get an email and you are CC’d or BCC’d, the sender wants you to know about it but there is no action required of you.