In the business world, we have so many forms of digital communication available to us– texts, emails, message boards, group chats and so on. It’s very important to get it right when you choose how to contact clients, colleagues and suppliers.
Debretts, the British Bible of etiquette guidance, has much to say about business etiquette in general. But what about business email and text etiquette? Well, here at Polished Manners, your expert provider of modern etiquette training, we’ve come up with some simple tips to make all your electronic business communications both polite and efficient.
Digital communication is quick and convenient, but the speed and ease are risky. You can fire off an email hastily and repent at leisure. However, with careful thought and wording, emails can be perfectly composed and give an impression that reflects favourably on you and your business.
Acknowledge When you receive an email from a client, colleague or another contact, make sure you acknowledge it, ideally within two days. This will reassure them that their message hasn’t been lost in cyberspace.
Spelling and punctuation Email is a speedy medium but that’s no excuse for slacking on punctuation or spelling. Poorly-written messages give an immediate bad impression and can also lead to misunderstandings. Always read through and check your email before sending – and make sure you’ve spelt the recipient email correctly too so that it will reach its destination.
Always start your message with, for example, “Dear Ms Smith” for formal letters and end with “yours sincerely.” If you don’t know the recipient’s name, Sir/Madam, can be used to start very formal letters without a specific name. In this situation, do not include ‘Dear’ at the beginning, and sign off with “yours faithfully.”
If in doubt, “best regards,” or “kind regards” can always be used as polite choices to sign off.
Avoid SHOUTING Writing a message with the caps lock on is generally interpreted as shouting and is considered rude, so avoid it at all costs.
Simplicity is key Lengthy emails or messages which cover several weighty issues at once may be daunting and off-putting to your recipient. If you have a lot to discuss, pick up the phone instead.
Mobile Device Etiquette
Text messaging and mobile apps such as WhatsApp are ubiquitous in business nowadays, but knowing how and, importantly, when to use them is key to maintaining your professional persona.
Avoid informal language Abbreviations, acronyms and symbols such as emojis should not be used in formal emails
Use full sentences Short sentences may be time-efficient but they can come off as harsh or rude.
Bad news Texting is for casual and non-urgent communications. Never use it to send bad news to someone. Redundancies via text message are extremely bad form.
Auto-correct disasters Auto-correct is very useful to avoid spelling mistakes but it’s notorious for substituting completely incongruous words, so always double-check before pressing send.
Advice and support
Electronic communication makes doing business so much easier in many ways, but it’s important to determine when it is more appropriate to say things face to face, and even when a handwritten note might be a better way to express yourself.