Let me start off by saying that these are just my opinions. Regardless of your age, I think we have all gotten a little relaxed in how we communicate with people. Now, I may seem a little bit "old school," to some of the younger generation (Okay, I am not that old), but it is essential to be able to communicate to another individual properly. This can be applied to emailing an advisor, an employer, a professor, or even a complete stranger.
Here are a few things that come to mind:
1.) Starting and Ending and Email
"Hey" "Sup" and nothing are all not the best ways to start an email off. It may be to a friend or your family, but if you mean business, this intro does not scream business. "Dear (Mr. or Ms., Dr. if you know they have it.)" is not old-fashioned. It is very much an appropriate way to start your messages. When finishing, a simple "Thanks" "Best" "Sincerely" works great too. Most importantly "sign" the bottom of your email. Let the person know who you are. Yes your email may be firstname.lastname@example.org, but it is no excuse to be impolite.
2.) Reply vs. Reply-All
In short...never (almost ever) Reply-All. Send the message to the person who sent it to you. And you wonder why a lot of us struggle with "Inbox Zero." I do get having conversations with group members or committee members, so that would be my one exception.
3.) Use the BCC:
What to send a message to an outsider but keep your supervisor in the loop? Sending a message to a group of student leaders about an upcoming meeting? The BCC: is your best friend. It inherently does not mean that you are trying to share secret messages. It just may mean you are protecting yourself or the protecting information of others from someone.
4.) Urgent? Really?
I enjoy the feature just as much as the next person, but using the "urgent" or "high priority" just so the person on the other end will notice it is not cool. Students (and I call out students because I am guilty of this too): just because you waited until the last minute to do your work does not mean you have to bombard another person's inbox with these "Urgent" messages. It is only urgent to you. If you send everything with an urgent tag, how can we tell when it is truly urgent?
5.) Mobile Device Signatures
Now this isn't really a bad thing, but more of a conversation starter. How many of us know that the iPad and iPhone have an defaulted email signature that says, "Sent from my ______"? Follow-up question, how many seriously use it? Me personally, I have changed it to match my email account because I really do not want to let you know that I answered via my mobile device. I do not want you to assume that I am free if I am on my iPhone or iPad. That being said, do some of you use this to your advantage positively? Comment below!
Now, I think we can all agree that these are probably the biggest "issues" with emailing. I know, we are so used to the technology and are comfortable behind a screen, but you do not want to be that candidate that did not get an interview, or that student that gives faculty and staff a hard time. Heck, sometimes people respond quicker to those that took the simple measures of looking nice and showing they mean business in their email.
It is a simple list. What would you add? Thanks for reading!