When I was in second grade my parents sent me to etiquette school, where I learned that a fork goes to the left of the plate, and one should always use the salad plate to their right (…right?)
I was additionally taught how to properly “dab” my mouth with a napkin, and not to slurp. However, one thing that my instructors did not and could not have prepared me for was the etiquette requirements and mannerisms that my fast-approaching 21st century life would require. Like e-email.
Before I begin, I should say that I am definitely more “on top of” e-mail than many of my peers — I just like it.It helps me visually keep track of different things, and is as close as the palm of my hand, via my ever-present mobile phone.
But there is an unwritten set of rules for sending and responding to e-mail that every student should be aware of. While e-mail messages are generally less urgent than a phone call, response time is very important, etiquette-wise.
Here are my three e-rules for sending and receiving e-mail:
1. Don’t get too anxious
If you’re waiting to hear back from a potential employer or study abroad program – do not let yourself go crazy waiting for a reply or decision. Once you send in an application of ANY sort, try and forget about it. Checking e-mail has become far too easy, and draining your computer or phone battery won’t make the response any quicker, or yourself any saner.
2. Don’t be afraid to send a follow up
Most of the time, you aren’t the only one e-mailing your teacher or potential internship contact. The person you are e-mailing may have other priorities or may be the type who receives hundreds of e-mails a day.
It can never hurt to send a nice, airy second note to someone. Never be afraid to send a “hey, hope you haven’t forgotten about me” e-mail. For all you know, they might have!
3. My Golden Rule: if you have time to read it, you have time to respond to it
One of the greatest things about electronic messages of any sort is that one needn’t be in a shirt and tie to respond to them. Replying from a laptop or a phone is something that can be done anytime, from virtually anywhere.
This means you can find time at different points throughout your day — when stopped in morning traffic on the way to work or school or instead of reading the newest issue of People during your morning bathroom visit.
With that in mind, everybody knows how frustrating it is to wait for a reply from someone, especially if it’s a message that has potentially good news tied to it. So, don’t make someone get all worked up over waiting from response from you (see #1).
A few other e-mail hints:
- Always write something in the subject line, even if it’s just the word “something”
– Always address people correctly; if a professor has a PhD, it’s “Dr” to you. A person should never be addressed by first name unless they have referred to themselves to you as such. Or they have said, “Please – call me Bob”
– Always initially thank someone for taking the time to read your e-mail. After all – they could have been reading People instead of your e-mail
– Never use AIM/Facebook talk. Never. Never-ever.
– Never be too personal, conversational, or over-friendly too soon. Stay focused on getting business done.
Do you have any golden rules for e-mail? Do you disagree? Send me an e-mail. Or two.
Powered by Facebook Comments