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Your Email Messages May be Saying More Than You Realize

May 13, 2011

Don Buehrer, Southwest Regional Director, submitted this post.  He had this article on file and wanted to site the source, but it looks to be a conglomeration of information found in many places.  I think it is good to review this. I am the WORST about typing an email as quickly as possible and hitting send.  When I read the email later, I notice that I have left out words or have made a few typos. I am sure that does not leave a good impression.  If you have any other tips, please leave a comment for the betterment of our society. –Jim


We all know that email is a quick and easy way to communicate. Recent studies suggest over 300 million emailboxes exist worldwide, making it the most popular Internet application. Over 183 billion email messages are sent every day (appx 2 million per second).

So, if we’re going to use email as our most prominent way of communicating, we need to make sure we’re using it properly.

The email messages we send may be saying a lot more about us than we realize. They provide a window into our workplace status, work habits, stress levels and even our personality.

The internet is filled with suggestions on the most appropriate way to use email. Here are just some of the pointers to consider:

  • Never use email to “let off steam.” Save your immediate wrath or criticism for face-to-face meetings or for the phone. Better to take a deep breath, go and get a coffee and wait a day. Delays will help you preserve relationships and demonstrate emotional maturity.
  • Set a “5 or 10 minute don’t send rule” for most email. Save them in your drafts folder- you’ll be surprised how given a five minute lapse, you will be able to retract a poorly written message or reconsider your response to something important.
  • It’s OK to inject some humor into your messages (thank goodness), but frequent emotions, chain jokes/pictures and smiley faces says that you are under-employed and not to be taken seriously.
  • Language does matter! Use spell-check and your thesaurus. Mangled sentences and typos make you appear careless or even just plain ignorant.
  • Be considerate, polite and brief in all messaging: trim dangling threads, stay away from unnecessary attachments, signature graphics, run-on disclaimers, device identifiers, html coding, cute quotes and icons-especially dancing icons
  • Dnt ovrabbrvt
  • Don’t cry wolf with alert levels
  • Use cc with restraint
  • When sending an email to a long recipient list, code as group address for brevity and privacy

Communication via email is not hard. Doing it well is what’s difficult. Use these suggestions as a starting point to create email etiquette rules that will help you stay efficient and professional.

Don Buehrer, Regional Director (TX, KS, NE, SD, ND, MT, and UT), Nelnet Partner Solutions

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