The Three New Rules of Email Etiquette

Email ain’t dead. Nearly 68% of teens and 73% of millennials prefer to receive business communication via email. But the way we use it needs to change...

At school, we were all taught to write a ‘formal letter’. Your address at the top right. Their address at the top left. Muddle ‘Yours faithfully’ and ‘Yours sincerely’ and be scorned as a pariah.

Needless to say, the world has changed. Now people write emails as they would an instant message. We think it’s the future. It’s time to ditch the old, formal ways of working and embrace more free-form collaboration. 

Here are our three new rules for email etiquette, designed for those who love to get stuff done:

1. Ditch the pleasantries

‘Dear’, ‘hello’ and ‘best regards’ aren’t necessary these days in less formal situations. Of course, the receiver knows the email is addressed to them and from you - it’s landed in their inbox with your email address on it. Soon, these formal emails will look as silly as the text from your Grandad where he gives his name. 

Similarly, opening with ‘Hope you’re well’ seems polite - but actually, you’re demanding that the recipient spends time responding. (And requiring them to squint if they’re on their mobile.)

If you just have a simple question or update, ditch email for Instant Messenger. You’ll grab the recipient’s attention with a sound alert and likely receive a quick reply.  

2. Get to the point

We’ve all asked someone two questions in an email, then received a response to only one of them. Most people can’t handle a block of text - they’re busy too, likely scanning your email hoping it won’t ask them to do anything. 

Think carefully - have you communicated all the information? It’s easy to believe that the recipient has access to all the data you do. Ticking off ‘who, what, when, where and why’ is still a good rule of thumb.

Emailing as you would instant message - getting straight to the point of what you want the recipient to do - is best for everyone. You’ll get a better hit rate of people understanding what you want, meaning you won’t waste their time. Also, as people feel spelling mistakes, and casual language are ‘allowed’ in an instant message, they often express themselves more effectively, spontaneously and candidly.

3. Don’t use email for complex projects or groups

We’ve all seen people ‘replying’ to a group email when they should ‘reply all’ - and received responses to an older email after the conversation has moved on. It’s also difficult, as the recipient, to motivate yourself to read the entire thread of an email you’re only CCed into - compared to colour-coded instant messaging systems, which make it clear who said what when.

Instant messaging is the ideal medium for a group chat. Everyone can see every response and the most recent comment loads first. It’s an inclusive medium - people self-censor less when they’re expressing their ideas on a tool they use every day with friends. This open communication and creative idea sharing could transform your business and its profits.

The technology

As usual, Google Apps has already brought us the future - in the form of ‘Smart Reply’ in Inbox by Gmail. We love this handy tool which generates three automatic (and customisable) responses to common email questions.

The tool is ‘learning’ all the time from user feedback. For example, it already understands that ‘I love you’ is never a good response to a business email!

And we’re thrilled that Inbox by Gmail has (finally!) integrated with Google Drive. Sharing collaborative documents online is way easier than downloading email attachments - check it out!

What now?

Google Apps is the perfect partner for your business, now and in the future - and Kimbley IT can help you make the most of it.