If you are a human being in a typical office work space, you're probably one who uses email. More likely than not, Yahoo, Gmail, or even AOL email rules your world. It’s as constant as the rising sun. It stands to reason that something so ever-present would have some rules.
Yet, based on the emails I see, it appears the sending and receiving of email communication is still a bit like the “wild, wild west.”
Not like THAT "Wild Wild West"... okay, well maybe a little like that.
Whether others adhere to basic communication principles shouldn’t determine how you approach it.
Do It4Yourself (and those you email)
Once you hit send, that communication, no matter the topic, recipient, purpose, or message, becomes the property of other people. What do you want them to think?
First of all, consider why you’re writing and what you’re trying to say. It sounds basic, but it’s worth a pause at the very least. Often I’ll be typing an email and have a bad feeling. I will purposefully stop and think – “Do I really need/want to send this?” Perhaps a phone call or in-person conversation would work better.
Recently I received an email that had been forwarded seven times. Seven times! Recognize unintended people may be reading what you are sending to one.
Consider the timing. Just because you are working on a Saturday morning or a Sunday night, doesn’t mean your co-workers have to hear from you right then. Most people have smartphones now and getting emails at odd times can shift someone into work mode whether they want to be or not. Most email systems have a “Delay Delivery” feature. If you don't know how to use it, a quick internet search will do the trick. No one likes the showoff who sends random emails at odd times to prove how hard they are working!
Use To: and CC: as they are intended. If you send an actionable email to multiple people (both in the To: line) how will they know who is supposed to actually take the action? To whom is the email really being sent? And is there anyone else you’d like to be on the inside of the communication? That’s how those two buttons are really used.
Finally, remember everything in your email says something about you. Grammar, punctuation, tone, the message itself, details, the salutation, all of it – reflects who you are and how you work. One of the smartest things you can do is quickly recheck the email before clicking on the send button. That’s even harder to do with your thumbs on a smart phone. You want people to receive the message in the spirit in which it was sent AND allow the recipient to see what an incredible person you are.
Or at least know you’re a normal, busy human being – who is clearing their email out like everyone else.