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Following Email Etiquette

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Following Email Etiquette

    In Simplifying Your Information Intake, we looked at strategies to reduce the amount of email you need to deal with, and how to deal with what’s left much faster. Anyone who undertakes the task of clearing out their inbox for good and getting a handle on their email habits inevitably discovers that the biggest reason email is plaguing so much of their time is the amount of unnecessary or badly written email being sent their way by others.

    Here at Lifehack we like to help you become more productive, but there’s something to be said for helping others become more productive – after all, if you can make the life of your coworkers, friends and family a bit easier, isn’t it more likely they’ll return the favor?

    So, in this article we’ll look at the email etiquette that you can follow to inspire world peace and harmony and end famine. Email can make life so much easier compared to the inconvenient snail mail or the inefficient phone call, but it can also be the source of all sorts of stress. Perhaps if everyone followed these guidelines, the world really would be a happier place!

    Use Descriptive Subject Lines

    Well-crafted, descriptive subject lines are essential to being able to process email quickly. If you have to open each email just to figure out what it’s about, you can’t prioritize their responses as efficiently. While you might think the email you’re sending is the most important for the recipient to reply to, it may be way down the list for them – they know what they need to get done with the most urgency, so let them be the judge and state plainly what the message is about.

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    Ask yourself if you’d understand the purpose of the email based on the subject heading alone before settling on one, and make sure it is concise, clear and scannable. Don’t use awkward phrasing or unusual words, because they take more time to re-read and understand, hence increasing the amount of time it takes your recipient to process the message.

    Brevity is Your Friend

    Have you ever received one of those emails that never seems to end? The one that goes on for pages and pages, yet by the time you finish you feel like you’ve learned nothing?

    Have you ever sent one?

    I bet the answer is yes on both counts. We’ve all received them, and we’ve all been guilty of sending them at least once or twice before. But there’s also the serial ramblers who do this every time they hit the Compose button.

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    In 90% of cases, email that is more than a page long is too long. Unless you’re explaining complicated concepts or providing detailed instructions (because they’ve been asked for or need to be communicated for a reason), then get back to the core of your message and communicate it quickly.

    In my experience the kind of person who sends an opus for each email is the kind of person who assumes everyone is less intelligent than themselves or feels the need to explain completely irrelevant things. For instance, if you’re a graphic artist, you don’t need to explain the techniques used to create an image for a client when you hand over the work. They don’t care; that’s why they hired you instead of figuring it out for themselves.

    But Don’t Be Too Brief

    Context is important; when you deal with email all the time, it’s easy to forget what you’ve sent out in the last few days. When people remove your message from their reply completely, or fail to include key details in a message, confusion ensues and more back-and-forth is required to sort it out.

    When replying to messages, clip off as much of the previous email as you can while keeping key sentences quoted in your reply. Ensure you provide contextual details that may seem self-evident to you, but not to the recipient – this is especially true when you’re emailing lecturers. Your course is not the only one they teach, most of the time!

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    Don’t CC if You Don’t Have a Reason

    Ah, the terminal case of misplaced carbon copies. Before you inflict this painfully irritating malady on someone, you’ve got to go back and have a good look and ask yourself if it’s necessary. From experience, I’d say about 90% of messages I’ve received where I’m not in the To: field but the CC: field were completely and totally useless to me.

    “Just keeping you in the loop” is a frequent reason given for doing this, and while there are sometimes cases where this is a good idea, for the most part you shouldn’t send someone an email unless you want them to take action on it

    Reply-All Isn’t Always Necessary

    Someone asks their whole mailing list for advice. The whole mailing list uses reply-all to give said advice. You get the pleasant surprise of tens, hundreds, or even thousands of totally unwanted emails. Reply-all is there for a reason and can be useful, but it’s yet another feature of email that’s rarely used for any good reason at all.

    Whether the boss sends you and three other guys an email asking what time the serial bus arrives (I’ve read too much Dilbert) or your 13 year old niece/daughter/cousin/sister has sent out yet another chain mail and you want to tell her off, don’t use reply-all. Don’t punish anyone more than they already have been!

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    Use BCC for Bulk Mail

    Speaking of little girls who make liberal use of the forward button, if you absolutely must send a bulk mail to your address book, always, always use the BCC field. It’s a basic privacy measure and not only prevents your recipients from receiving endless spam as a result of your carelessness (who doesn’t already?), but shows your recipient you have respect for their privacy and some intellect.

    I always feel somewhat more amicable to a mass-mailer who has bothered to use a BCC, even on an internal email.

    And, of course…

    Don’t Use The Forward Button

    The good old forward button. Whenever you receive a once-in-a-lifetime offer to have your love interest call and ask you on a hot date, it’s the forward button that lets you send it on to fifteen people and have it come true. Sounds like something you do often? In that case, I really hate you.

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    If it’s not chain mail, it usually boils down to another case of “just keeping you in the loop” that’s not usually necessary; don’t bother unless someone requires the specific information in the forwarded message to complete their job.

    Email can be a massive waste of time. Help others cut their email time down and you’ll inevitably spend less time on it yourself.

    More by this author

    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on January 24, 2022

    21 Best Tips On Making A Long Distance Relationship Work

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    21 Best Tips On Making A Long Distance Relationship Work

    Having texting and video conferencing at our fingertips, it appears that maintaining a long-distance relationship is easier than ever. Long-distance calls are no longer a luxury; the days when they needed to be rationed are long gone.

    Long-distance couples do not have to depend on 3 p.m. postal delivery, waiting for news that is at best four days old.

    Now we’re no longer even in the days of waiting for our loved ones to check their e-mail when they get home from work. Instant messaging keeps us hooked to each other even when we are out shopping, working, playing, watching a movie and doing much more.

    Technology, however, cannot compensate for everything in a long-distance relationship, as anyone with a long-distance relationship will tell you.

    Many long-distance relationships still seem emotionally difficult despite the lack of regular physical proximity.

    People often think long-distance relationships will never work. It may be discouraged by your family, and some of your best friends may tell you not to take it too seriously in case you end up heartbroken.

    Many things are not possible due to the extra distance – no one can promise it will be easy. Things could get complicated, and you might feel lonely and sad at times.

    Still, many of us try them.

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    However, the extra distance also makes the simplest things the sweetest. Being able to hold the other person’s hand, eating together at the same table, feeling each other’s touch, taking a walk together, smelling each other’s hair… these small wishes could suddenly mean so much more in a long-distance relationship.

    Long-distance relationships may be tough, but they have their own surprises too.

    Here’re 21 tips on how to make a long distance relationship work:

    1. Avoid excessive communication.

    It is unwise to be overly “sticky” and possessive. You two don’t really have to communicate 12 hours a day to keep the relationship going. Many couples think that they need to compensate for the distance by doing more. This is not true. And it might only make things worse. Soon you would get tired of “loving.”

    Remember: Less is more. It is not about spamming — you are only going to exhaust yourselves. It’s really about teasing at the right moments and tugging at the right spots.

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    2. See it as an opportunity.

    “If you want to live together, you first need to learn how to live apart.” – Anonymous

    View it as a learning journey for both of you. This is an opportunity for you to prove your love for one another. According to a Chinese proverb, “Real gold is not afraid of the test of fire.” Instead of thinking that this long-distance relationship is pulling you two apart, you should believe that through this experience, the both of you will be bound together even stronger.

    As Emma says it to Will in season four of Glee,

    “I would rather be here, far from you, but feeling really close, rather than close to you but feeling really far away.” – Emma, Glee Season 4

    3. Set some ground rules to manage your expectations.

    Both of you need to be clear with what you expect of each other during this long-distance relationship. Set some ground rules so that none of you will do things that will take the other party by surprise.

    For instance, are you two exclusive? Is it all right for the other person to go on dates? What is your commitment level? It’s better to be open with each other about all these things.

    4. Try to communicate regularly, and creatively.

    Greet each other “good morning” and “good night” every day — this is a must. On top of that, try to update your partner on your life and its happenings, however mundane some of the things may seem.

    To up the game, send each other pictures, audio clips, and short videos from time to time. By putting in this kind of effort, you make the other person feel loved and attended to.

    5. Talk dirty with each other.

    Sexual tension is undoubtedly one of the most important things between couples. In a way, sexual desire is like the glue that keeps both parties from drifting apart. Sexual need is not only biological but also emotional.

    Keep the flames burning by sending each other teasing texts filled with sexual innuendos and provocative descriptions. Sexy puns work pretty well too.

    6. Avoid “dangerous” situations.

    If you already know that going to the club or going drinking with your group of friends late at night will displease your partner, then you should either 1. Not do it or 2. Tell your partner beforehand to reassure them.

    You should not let this sort of thing slip by because it will only make your partner extra worried or suspicious – and of course, very upset because they will feel powerless or lack control over the situation.

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    You can fall victim to your traps by going out with eye candy from work after work or dating someone from your past who has been flirting with you without realizing it. Before entering a dangerous situation, you need to recognize the dangers.

    Listen to your heart, but don’t just rely on it. Make sure you also listen to your mind.

    7. Do things together.

    Play a game online together. Watch a documentary at the same time on YouTube or Vimeo. Share a song on Skype while another plays the guitar. Video-call each other and go for a walk together. Together, go online shopping – and buy each other gifts (see #13).

    You really have to be creative and spontaneous about it.

    8. Do similar things.

    Recommend books, TV shows, movies, music, news and etc., to each other. When you read, watch and listen to the same things, you get to have more topics in common to talk about.

    Even if you live apart, it’s nice to have some shared experiences.

    9. Make visits to each other.

    Every long-distance relationship is enriched by visits.

    After all the waiting and yearning and abstinence, you finally get to meet each other to fulfil all the little things like kissing, holding hands, etc. These are typical for couples in long-distance relationships but more special and intimate for long-distance couples.

    The atmosphere will be filled with fireworks, glitter bombs, confetti, rainbows, and butterflies.

    10. Have a goal in mind.

    Are we going to be apart for a long time?” “what about the future?” These are the questions you should ask yourselves.

    In fact, a couple cannot stay in a long-distance relationship forever. Eventually, we all need to settle down.

    So make a plan with each other. Set up a timeline, mark down the estimated times apart and times together, and draw an end goal.

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    It is important that you two are on the same page and have the same goals. So that even if you are not living in the same space and the same timezone, both of you are still motivated to work together in the same direction towards a future that includes one another.

    That’s right, you need some motivation to make a relationship last too. Find out more about what motivates you here.

    11. Enjoy your alone time and your time with your friends and family.

    You are alone, but you are not lonely unless you choose to feel like it. You don’t have to let your world revolve around your partner — you still have you, your friends, and your family. Take this time apart to do more with your friends and family. Go to the gym more often. Get a new hobby. Binge-watch shows. There are plenty of things for you to do that don’t involve your partner.

    12. Stay honest with each other.

    Talk about your feelings of fear, insecurity, jealousy, apathy, whatsoever. If you try to hide anything from your partner, that secret will sooner or later swallow you up from the inside out. Don’t try to deal with things all by yourself. Be open and honest with each other. Let your partner help you and give you the support you need. It’s better to look at the problem during its initial stage than to only disclose it when it’s all too late.

    13. Know each other’s schedules.

    It’s helpful to know when the other person is busy and free. So that you can drop a text or make a call at the right time. You wouldn’t want to disturb your partner when they are in the middle of class or halfway through a business meeting. Make sure you are aware of everyone’s small and big events in their lives, i.e., college midterms and exams, important business trips and meetings, job interviews, etc. Particularly if you live in different time zones, this becomes more important.

    14. Keep track of each other’s social media activities.

    Facebook and Instagram photos of each other. Send each other tweets. Tag each other on Facebook. Post stuff on each other’s wall. Let them know you care. Be cool with stalking each other.

    15. Gift a personal object for the other person to hold on to.

    Memories have power. No matter what it is–a pendant, a ring, a keychain, a collection of songs and videos, or a perfume bottle. Everyday items and things have meanings to us, whether we realize it or not. We all try to store memories in material things so that when our minds fail, we will still be able to look at or hold onto something that will help us recall our memories. This is why something so simple can mean so much to a person when others may see little or no value in it.

    16. Get a good messaging app.

    This is extremely important because texting is the most frequent and common way of communication the two of you have. You need a good messaging app on your phones that allows interactions beyond words and emoticons.

    Personally, I use this messaging app called LINE. I find it highly effective because it has a huge reserve of playful and very funny “stickers” that are free for its users to use. You can also go to the app’s “Sticker Shop” to download (or gift!) extra stickers of different themes (e.g., Hello Kitty, Pokemon, Snoopy, MARVEL, etc.) at a low price. Occasionally, the app will give out free sticker sets for promotions. This messaging app is cute and easy to learn to use.

    17. Snail-mail your gift.

    Mail each other postcards and hand-written love letters. Send each other gifts across the globe from time to time. Flower deliveries on birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day. Shop online and surprise each other with cool T-shirts, sexy underwear, and such.

    18. Stay positive.

    You need to constantly inject positive energy into the long-distance relationship to keep it alive. Yes, the waiting can be painful, and you can sometimes feel lonely, but you need to remind yourself that the fruits at the end will be sweet as heaven.

    One good trick to staying positive is to be grateful all the time. Be thankful that you have someone to love — someone who also loves you back. Be thankful for the little things, like the hand-made letter that arrived safely in your mailbox the other day. Be thankful for each other’s health and safety.

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    19. Keep each other updated on each other’s friends and family.

    This will help you two to know each other’s culture and values. Knowing small habits of each other helps in developing an understanding and building mutual trust.

    Talking about family and friends gives you more matters to talk about. The best thing to talk about is gossip and scandals.

    20. Video-call whenever possible.

    Because sometimes looking into each other’s eyes and hearing each other’s voices can make everything feel alright again.

    A video call is though nothing like being together, but it’s the best thing and the most to do for coziness in a long-distance relationship.

    21. Give each other pet names.

    Because it’s cute. It keeps the lovey-dovey going. Having special names for each other reserved only for one another are heart-warming. Hearing that one word with love lifts our spirits up, and we feel assured all over again.

    Chaos seems to fade away just by hearing that special word from someone special.

    With the best wishes…

    Love (or like) is a force that is beyond your control. Love just happens. The same goes for turning off those feelings, even when you get the perfect job halfway across the country.

    Neither one of us expects to be long-distance in a relationship. But if you’re in a relationship like this, you’ll just have to make the most out of a difficult situation. These advice for long distance relationships will hopefully help you stay strong and cheerful when living apart from one another.

    More Recommended Relationships Experts on Lifehack
    • Carol Morgan —  A communication professor, dating/relationship and success coach
    • Dr. Magdalena Battles — A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault
    • Randy Skilton —  An educator in the areas of relationships and self-help

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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