Communications The HBIC Guide to Email EtiquetteBy Head Bitch in Charge
Email is the lifeblood of business. And you're doing it wrong.
Email - the thing that killed the Post Office. But wait, USPS is still a thing isn’t it? Anyways, things have come and gone with their own attempts to kill email, but just like the Post Office it continues to prevail and I am still getting emails from Bath & Body Works every single day because I bought a candle once.
My point is, email, while annoying, still dominates our technical lives. You’re probably reading this because you got it in an email.
The problem is, people have seemed to completely forget email etiquette. This isn’t Slack, your emojis aren’t “cute,” and I am sick of waiting 4 days for your response.
In this guide, I, Head Bitch in Charge, will teach you the lost art of emailing. Let’s get started:
Let’s cover the biggest question I get asked: “HBIC, how do I sign off my emails in the most professional way?” Well, you have a few options, and they all suck. Kind regards, best, cheers, kindly, any other form of regards whether kind or not.
The best sign off is no sign off. That’s a power move. Simply sign your name. Or don’t even sign your name, just end it with your point. That’s the only way the recipient will know you mean business.
“I just wanted”:
“I just wanted”:
If I could get rid of one phrase in the human vocabulary, it would be “I just wanted.” Using this phrase to tell people what you want is an immediate sign of weakness. Just tell them what you’re there for. I’ll use an example below:
A: Hey Paul, I just wanted to see if you’ve had a chance to finish those finance reports?
B: Hi Paul, Did you finish the finance reports?
Which email is Paul going to take seriously? It’s B. Stop being a soppy emailer and make your demands known.
You are allowed 1-2 emojis per email AT MOST. And they better be relevant. If you send a simple 😃 no one will respond in a timely manner.*
*One caveat to this: If you’re a woman, you are expected to hit a quota of at least 4 emojis per email (or 1 per paragraph for longer emails). A woman in business is not taken seriously, so you can at least appear friendly and approachable.
No one wants to work read anymore. Thanks to TikTok we all have like 8 second attention spans. When I write important articles like this one, I know in the back of my head that it will only be skimmed (which, quite frankly, is your loss). Keep that in mind when you write emails.
Your emails should be no longer than three paragraphs. And honestly, at this point, a paragraph should be a two sentence max.
Choose your email greeting carefully. Saying “hey” or “hi” is too personal and should be used only with friends you have known for 15+ years. Hello is widely accepted, but a little stale. Greetings is almost always appropriate.
If you can fit your entire email in a subject line, do it. Let’s look at an example:
A: Thomas, I need you to come to my office at 3pm on Thursday, August 4th
Which one of these emails is Thomas going to respond to, and which email will ultimately get Thomas in your office at 3pm on Thursday, August 4th? Exactly.
My final piece of advice is nuanced, and why I call emailing a lost art. Your tone in an email is everything. In general, you should be commanding, proud, and terse. Emailing is for business, and you’re here to get business done.
There is no need for pleasantries. Don’t comment on someone’s family or out of work activities. State your purpose, ask relevant questions, and if you’re strapped for time, tell them when you expect their response.
That’s all I’ve got for you today, folks. Using these tips above will not only make you an email pro, it will make your coworkers and subordinates respect you. Expect replies in half the time.
If you liked this article, email me. I will generously provide equally helpful tips on Slack, Zoom, and in-person etiquette if you feel you’re lacking in other areas of work communication.