Practice good email etiquette

Posted on Thu, Sep 20, 2012

Tags: personal improvement, tips

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As organizers, we send a lot of email to communicate with our colleagues, volunteers, clients, and vendors.

We've all experienced an email interaction which rubbed us the wrong way, even though the sender intends no offense. Often, something as simple as saying "please" or asking, "how are you?" can prevent an email from hitting someone the wrong way, and avoid unnecessary tension.

With that in mind, here are a few simple tips for each and every email you send to ensure email interactions are a positive experience for everyone:

  • Start each email interaction with a personal check-in or warm opening.
  • When making an ask of a colleague, volunteer, client, or vendor, say "please."
  • Limit the use of words or phrases like "ASAP" and "immediately." Instead, use real times and deadlines.
  • End emails with a thank you or friendly closing statement.
  • Finally, eliminate the use of bold, underlined, multiple exclamation points, ALL CAPS, and other animated gestures unless absolutely necessary.

For example, which email would you prefer to receive?

Hi Judy,

I hope this email finds you well and rested after a busy weekend of canvassing. I'm writing to check in on the status of the canvass report for this weekend. Would you please send me the canvass report by 5 PM today?

Thank you for your hard work this weekend. I look forward to receiving the canvass report by 5 PM today.


Hi Judy,

What is the status of the canvass report for last weekend? I don't have your report, please send it to me ASAP! It's due at 5 PM, please send ASAP!

Want to take it even further? Check out this tip on building personal relationships over email. Combine that with email etiquette, and not only will you build relationships, but you'll also keep, maintain, and grow them!

Got a tip on email etiquette? Share in the comments!

Josh Wolf is Chief Administrative Officer at NOI

Photo from -=Bruce Berrian=-, via Creative Commons

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