The Dos and Don’ts of Business Email Etiquette

By Glassdoor


Few things can tarnish your professional brand quite like a poorly written, misguided email. One click of the send button can be the difference between a successful business exchange and a potential HR issue or coworker conflict. And while Americans send hundreds of thousands of emails a day, it should not be taken for granted.

Whether you’re a senior professional or an office newbie, here are 13 must-remember dos and don’ts of business email etiquette.

Do Pay Attention to The Subject Line

Write a clear, concise subject line that reflects the body of the email. Avoid subject lines with general words like, “Hi,” “Touching Base,” or “FYI,” and do not leave the subject line blank.

Do Use a Proper Salutation

“Hi” and “Hey” communicate a lack of professionalism and maturity. Begin your email with phrases such as “Good morning,” “Good afternoon,” “Good evening,” or “Hello.” “Good day” or “Greetings” are other phrases used frequently in the international arena.

Do Use an Introduction

In cultures like the U.S., the best practice is for the sender to introduce themselves by first and last name with some background information in the first few lines. For example, “Dear Ms. Mandell: My name is Sharon Schweitzer, founder of Access to Culture. I was referred to you by . . .” or “My name is Sharon Schweitzer and I am an International Business Expert writing to you about . . .” This is especially important when introducing yourself to new contacts, potential customers, clients, and employers who want to know how you received their contact information.

Do Know The Culture

When sending emails to people from indirect cultures, it is proper protocol and a best practice to research country customs. For example, in Japan, it is polite, appropriate, and customary to inquire about the weather in the first sentence of a business email. Contrastingly, it would be inappropriate to send an email introducing yourself to a potential Japanese contact. In indirect cultures, introductions are only made by mutually respected third parties due to custom; cold emails are ignored, deleted, blocked, and/or marked as junk.

Don’t Include Humor and Sarcasm

Emails can easily be misinterpreted through text without context. Humor is culture-specific. Avoid both humor and sarcasm in emails as the recipient may be confused, or worse, offended.

Do Double-Check Your Attachments

When you attach a file, be kind enough to take a few extra seconds to paste it into the body of the email as well. This shows consideration to the recipient, by saving them time and risk in opening attachments. Is this more time consuming for you? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.

Don’t Hit “Reply All”

Avoid using “Reply All” unless everyone needs to know. When the C-Suite (CEO/COO) or administrative assistant sends an email to 10 staff members requesting volunteers for a community service project, reply to the admin, not to all 10 members. Why make ten others delete your email? …read more

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