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A Modern Guide To Email Etiquette

We’ve all felt it. The email that was so difficult to read, all you heard was the quiet drone of the computer. Do computers even make noise anymore? No matter. There is always a way, a classy way, to keep your dignity, empower your spirit, and communicate effectively, even if that communication is silence. Read on to learn one seasoned professional’s strategies to elevate your email game. Now I’m elevating my feet after a great day of cyber strategy!

1. Answer emails at the right time.

Even if you wake up at 4 a.m. with kids begging for waffles, you might not be in the right mindset to make a correspondence before then, or afterwards with the sticky plates in the kitchen sink. Your best writing is probably not only when you’re fed, but also when the sun is shining and when offices are open! Offices often open at 9 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. Even if you’re emailing a profession where they can get back to you at any time, you’ll probably be their favorite client if you stick to emailing them during regular office hours. They are probably watching Netflix at 10 p.m. and eating waffles and have to pause their show and their bite to get back to you! Most office workers eat lunch from around 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., so you might be interrupting their lunch waffles to email during those hours as well.

2. Allow people sufficient time to respond to your emails.

“Classy” isn’t pearls, it’s treating people nicely! Feel the metaphorical pearl necklace loop around your neck three times for the three days you wait to hear back from somebody. When you email somebody, it can often feel so personal, like you’re in their presence and talking to them in person, and that can be a great way to feel when you’re writing an email. But their email inbox could be full of 10, 20, 50, 100, or more emails at any time with people who feel this way! If you email them sooner and say, “Hey, where is my email response,” they could get into trouble with their boss. You don’t want them to get into trouble! You emailed them like a friend! True love waits, as they say.

3. If you feel that somebody is being mean to you, and if you can, wait up to three days to respond to their email.

Many of us have been there. You can feel the other party’s undue anger, narcissism, or naivete. Maybe you know that they are lying to you. “That’s not when nanna’s birthday is!” you want to write back in all capital letters. The thing is, though, when people write to you inappropriately, the most important thing to them, besides your knee jerk reaction, which they cannot see, is that you respond to them immediately, upset, which they can see. They literally cannot wait for their email response. So make them wait! These are usually people with a lot of time, so have them check their email 80 times a day waiting for your response. Over three days, that’s 240 email checks. Or are they waiting for a ding on their phone? “Oh, that was just a new sale at Anthropologie,” they’ll mutter to themselves. They’ll see that their email didn’t make you explode, they’ll see that you kept your cool, and maybe they’ll start to feel regret that they emailed you with such a lack of social intelligence. The bonus of waiting three days is that when you finally email them back, you’ll feel much cooler too! I ate so many waffles in the meantime!

4. Keep emails normal.

Never get emotional, and never respond emotionally even when you felt that somebody was out of line. You want to think like Hilary Clinton and always prepare for your emails to leak. You never know if you might want to run for office! Think like a politician. Politicians never do anything wrong, because those stories come back to haunt them when they are in charge of something, because they are supposed to be role models for our children. The mother-in-law in a rage over Thanksgiving switching to a new location this year? If it’s a group email and it’s not moving to your home, you don’t have to answer. If it is moving to your home, say something comforting, and of course keep it sincerely nice. Thank her for all the Thanksgivings at her home prior. Say, as a joke, that you cannot wait to inherit all of her Thanksgiving problems, and then say you hope that you can handle these Thanksgiving problems with at least 1% of the class with which she has handled them in the past. Ask her if she would like to come a day early to help with the preparations. Promise that your home will feel like home to her, and to everyone, just like her home. And reassure her that her dessert will still be the favorite. Her home will also be the favorite Thanksgiving home in everybody’s hearts! Now you can run for Sanitation Commissioner!

5. Respect when people are too important to answer your emails.

Your former boss might have 10 or more emails a day from other former employees, and maybe many more, especially if you’ve worked at a large workplace. Maybe he or she is just making waffles right now. In any event, they are simply too important to answer your emails. It doesn’t mean that they are not reading them! Wish them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Every year! If you’ve gotten a new job years later, maybe update them and thank them for your experiences at that former workplace, and thank them for their guidance, which helped you get to where you are today. They would probably love to read an email like that.

6. Know how to write an email that doesn’t require a response back, for busy recipients.

Maybe your aunt is the Temple President. Maybe another uncle is the Temple President too in another state! Do not ask any questions, like, “How is work?” They are too busy with work to respond! Just ask them at the next family gathering. Do not ask, “How are the kids?” They probably do not know, because they are so busy. Just hang out with their kids at the next family gathering. Do not ask, “Do you have anything good to recommend on Netflix?” You can just assume it’s probably Shtisel, which you can talk about at the next family gathering. They’d still probably love a life update from you, just write it factually, and then say, “I know you’re too busy to respond! See you at the next family gathering,” at the end. Replace, “How are you?” with “Hope you’re well!” or with “I can feel your good vibes from New Jersey!”

7. Keep your emails short, unless they are for nanna.

Nanna loves all the details about everything the grandkids did that day, from their waffles to how nicely they washed off their sticky fingers in the kitchen sink. It might be hard to write a long email to nanna though, or actually any email to nanna, because it is unclear if she knows how to use email. You know what? Just call nanna. Keep all of your emails short. Writers learn that when you write a short story, every single word in the piece is supposed to matter. If you take any one word out, it would change the entire piece of writing. Approach your emails the same way!

8. Always write your own emails whenever possible.

Sometimes a boss does look over an email you have written and edits it. Professional writers often have editors who will make suggestions. However, collaborative writing would typically mean losing your own original, unique voice. Have a learning curve! Stick on the safe side! Listen to your conscience! The angel side, of course! If you have your partner read every email before you send it, or sit next to you at the computer to write it out together, you might be codependent on them communication-wise. They can’t always be with you when you’re buying a new waffle maker at Bed Bath & Beyond to say something friendly to the cashier. You can make your own waffles, right? If you can make your own waffles, you can write your own emails!

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