Business email etiquette 101: Are you still making these mistakes?

Business email etiquette

We use this every day and yet, many people are still guilty of breaching basic email etiquette. Here are some bad habits to break and new rules to follow.

A poll conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute showed that office workers spend an average of two and a half hours a day writing and responding to emails. But does practice really make perfect? Not where emails are concerned, it seems. Most of us would be able to recall having been included in an email’s “cc”, even when it comes to matters that don’t concern us, or dealt with the frustration of email “radio silence”.

Here are some tips in following business email etiquette when corresponding with coworkers, bosses, and vendors.


Do …

Use uploading services for large attachments. Many offices still have inbox sizes of just 100MB, so your coworker probably won’t appreciate you sending email attachments of more than 2MB. Dropbox is a great option because you can use it to upload individual files that won’t expire.

Don’t …

Spread gossip via emails. We’ve all heard horror stories of how supposedly private correspondence ended up being circulated around the company or, worse still, the Internet. Remember to keep it professional at all times – you don’t want that email trail haunting you (or the victim) for the rest of your professional life.

Bosses or senior management

Do …

Collate all the relevant information and send it through in one email. Bear in mind that your boss is likely to have a never-ending to-do list and won’t have the time (nor the patience) to sort through all his emails to get all the information he needs.

Don’t …

Be overly enthusiastic with the “reply all” button. If your boss has a hands-off approach and pretty much leaves you to manage your own projects, he might not appreciate the flood of emails in his inbox that are a result of the overzealous use of “reply all”. Of course, if he specifically asks to be included in the correspondence, then be sure to do so.


Do …

Be as clear as possible. Some vendors you’ll deal with might not be proficient in the language you’re corresponding in, and you’ll want to reduce the chance of miscommunication by using simple terms and avoiding jargon. If you have several questions, use line breaks so the vendor won’t miss out on any of them.

Don’t …

Be rude. Dealing with third-party vendors might try your patience at times, but try to retain a polite and respectful tone at all times. Remember: How you word your emails reflects on you, for better or for worse. The last thing you want is to be remembered as someone who’s difficult to work with.

No matter how busy you are, vet through your emails before sending them out. It shouldn’t take you more than a minute or two. Following proper business email etiquette reflects professionalism. Last but not least, be kind in all your correspondences and you’ll definitely be appreciated for the gesture.

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