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Tuning into Email Best Practices

As a new generation of web-savvy workforce enters the material handling industry, more communication will be through emails, text messaging, instant messaging, social media, discussion forums, podcasts, webinars, web conferencing, and blogs…. the list is endless. A greater percentage of collaboration and exchange of information will be virtual, with very little face-to-face meetings. As information and communication media explode bringing us so many channels through which to interact, we will be more in touch than ever, communicating constantly and instantly. Naturally, several articles and blogs talk about the etiquette of using the various media whether it’s maintaining an online presence or avatar, or simply replying to an email. We are more tuned into information than ever before, so we must constantly be aware of how we present our information online.

Before we attempt to take on the mammoth task of elaborating on each media and its best practices, let’s focus on emails for this blog. A recent article in the MHEDA Edge talks about the best practices of emailing. Recently, as I sat down to email my feedback on a project to a co-worker, I realized that this wasn’t just an email; it was documentation of my ideas and if the message was conveyed properly, could save everyone involved a lot of ‘back-and-forth’ correspondence. An email may seem like no big deal, especially when most of us send dozens (or more) everyday. However, streamlined communication in the electronic age is as crucial as any other business function because of its overall impact on the bottomline. Here are some of the points mentioned in the article (along with a few additional ones):

• A properly stated subject line helps prepare the recipient to tune into the subject correctly.
• Get to the point in the first few lines – in fact, if feedback can be given as bullet-points, by all means do so. You can always expand on those points once you’ve stated them.
• Copy only those who need to be copied in on an email, or require the information.
• If there are several people copied in on the original email, and your response is only relevant to a few, deleting the other names can spare them from getting spammed with all the ‘replies’ that do not pertain to them.
• Try to respond to a thread by retaining the original subject line so it’s easier for everyone to track that discussion.
• Try not to be argumentative through email. It’s always hard to figure out the tone of a conversation when it’s printed (despite all the creative emoticons and acronyms available to reflect our moods). So, keep emails simple, polite and as direct as possible. If things get too complicated, you can always pick up the phone and call.
• Have a comprehensive address at the bottom of your signature so your email recipient(s) have access to all your contact information.
These are just a few good practices in email etiquette. I’m sure there are several such points that our blog readers may recall. Feel free to add your thoughts in our comment section.