Professional Email Etiquette: Cutting Through the Clutter

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Include a Concise, Direct Subject 

Professional email etiquette can make or break you, and it starts with the subject. Just like addressing a letter, the subject of an email is important for several reasons. Not only is it the summary for the content of an email, it may be the key to having your email actually opened and read. If you are sending an email to a person who is likely to receive many emails per day, there is at least some chance that yours may be deleted or simply overlooked by accident. A subject that states the purpose and nature of the message is important, especially if it invites the recipient to take action.

A subject like: “Question Regarding Website Launch” lets the recipient know that this issue is pertinent to them and that it is a question that they can probably address quickly and move on. A subject that is short but vague, like “Website Launch”, may be skimmed or not even opened if it is assumed that it is a team-wide informative email.

Before You “Reply All”…

A large part of why we need to put some thought into our email subjects is because people are bombarded with too many emails because people don’t follow proper professional email etiquette. Do you hit “reply all” without even a second thought? People who do this are a large part of the problem. People do not pay attention to emails that they do not perceive to be relevant to them.

Most professionals have been included in email chains where two members of the team are basically emailing each other, but hitting “reply all” for some reason. Maybe they want other people to chime in with their feedback. Maybe they want the conversation between them to be witnessed, so that everyone is on the same page.

There certainly are good reasons to “reply all” to emails. I am not advocating the removal of this option, just that unnecessary company-wide or team-wide emails are a huge contributor to the flood of emails that professionals get every day.