E-Mail etiquette worthy of Ms. Emily Post

And here you have it, as promised two weeks ago, my last secret tip on culture change to share with you; Email: Info & Action please.

I think Emily Post would be very pleased with this approach. It’s simple, cordial, to the point, and it eliminates confusion. More importantly it signals to the intended recipient, whether they need to act, or, sit back and absorb the information for future reference.

Sprinkle a dash of the old rules and a pinch of the new rules…

1. Begin the subject line of your eMail with (Action) or (Info). You can provide more detail if you like, such as (Action: Approval) or (Action: Your Opinion Please). This allows people to sort on subject line and deal with action items first. The rest of the subject line should provide context for the Action or Info contained in the eMail.

2. eMails should be short and concise, along the lines of a Briefing Note. (Click to Tweet.) Consider writing in headings that summarize background, issues, next steps, and actions required.

3. Highlight any action required and the due date in bold red font.

4. Answer “Action” eMails swiftly – within one business day – even if it’s just to say you’ll get back to someone.

5. Don’t attach unnecessary files.

6. Don’t overuse the “High Priority” indicator.

7. Limit the cc list.

8. Don’t reply to all unless “all” really need to read your response.

9. Include an agenda, or at least a detailed description of the purpose of a meeting, in every meeting request.

10. Proof-read the email before you send it. And if you’re writing an email on a contentious issue, consider letting it sit as a draft for a couple of hours or overnight, and then going back to it. It’s also helpful to read it aloud.

I know this might sound like a lot of rules, but trust me, people will be grateful to you for making their life easier, AND, you’ll be thanking yourself as well.

Want to see how many action items you sent this week and how many you need to follow up on? Check your sent box and filter. See what I mean?

If you have some effective e-mail rules that have been tried and tested, we would love to hear from you. Email us at info@whiteboardconsulting.ca/staging or tweet us @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper.

Until next week,