Perfect your email etiquette in the workplace
A good signature, no capital letters and no kisses have been named as some of the key pieces of advice for writing the perfect email. Experts at officebroker.com asked a focus group of office workers to find the top ten pieces of advice when writing work emails.
Other advice included keeping the email short but polite, the rules over cc and bcc and the use of text speak.
A spokesperson for officebroker.com commented on the importance of getting the tone of emails just right. “Getting the correct tone of your email is essential. Far too often people fall out because they misinterpret emails as being rude and abrasive, when the sender is just trying to be succinct. There are a series of unwritten rules when it comes to writing the perfect email, but for some people they need the rules spelling out to them,” he said.
Top 10 tips for perfect email etiquette
Finishing an email with a kiss (x) is one of the most controversial areas of email etiquette. Some people do it out of habit, others do it to try and curry favor. However, it makes most people feel very uncomfortable. The best advice is to never use them and if someone sends you one politely forget to send one back.
2. ‘Hi’ vs. ‘Dear’
Choosing the right way to start an email is essential to building a strong online relationship. Whilst acceptable, ‘dear’ sounds old fashioned and will make you come across as a bit of a fuddy-duddy, whereas ‘Hi’ creates a friendly and engaging tone.
3. The sign-off
Don’t just let your email signature do all the work, as this will look rude and impersonal so end with ‘thanks’ or ‘best’. If you are someone who is always short for time then add a personal sign off into your signature.
4. Short but sweet
If you are a very busy person then writing short emails maybe the most productive use of your time. However, not everyone you email will know this and your usual two-word communiqué could be read as curt or off-hand.
There are ways of getting round this. One is simply taking an extra second to think whom you are emailing; the other is to have (p.s.) added into your signature, which lets people know about your short replies.
5. The signature
A good email signature is one of the most vital elements of an email, and often the simpler the design the better. A company logo, basic contact information, links to your social media and a disclaimer are all you need.
Any more than that and it can be really distracting. A massive company logo is not necessary and neither is a picture of you.
6. Capital letters
If you write in capital letters it will come across as if you’re shouting, as will the use of exclamation marks.
Don’t be trigger happy with punctuation as well. Ending an angry question with ‘?!?!?!?!’ is a sure fire way to get someone’s back up.
7. The dangers of ‘reply all’
We have all heard the stories of people who have hit the reply all button to an email and sent something meant for just one person to the entire office.
This is at best embarrassing and at worst career damaging, so always double check that you click the correct reply button.
8. Cc vs. Bcc
This is a very subtle rule that many people often forget. If you need to send one email to many contacts think carefully before you use the cc box. Ask yourself, do all the recipients know each other or would they mind their email being shared.
If the answer to either is no, use the bcc box, it is just common courtesy to keep others addresses private.
9. LOL :-)
Abbreviations, emoticons and text-speak are becoming increasingly popular in work emails.
Perhaps not the best idea to use them when you are emailing someone for the first time but once a relationship is built they can be a great way to keep things light hearted.
10. Make sure you send it to the right person
Somewhat surprisingly, sending an email to the right person is incredibly important.
Often typing in a contact’s first name will bring up their email, however don’t fall into the trap of assuming the right address will appear.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.