Career, Infographics, Self-Improvement

[Infographic] Email Etiquette – Vanessa Tai

Gmail users, I’m sure you’ve noticed the changes made to your inbox. Your mails are now automatically sorted out into three categories – Primary, Social and Promotions – and you have the option of creating two more categories as well. While this function helps you sift through the avalanche of emails you get each day, unfortunately it doesn’t quite filter out the type of emails that make you seethe. You know the type – CC-ing the entire office, forwarding an email with no indication of what you’re supposed to do with the information, and so on.

Does your inbox look like this?

Does your inbox look like this?

According to a 2012 study by McKinsey Global Institute, the average office worker spends 28 percent of his or her time reading and answering e-mail. Based on a 40-hour work week, that works out to 11.2 hours per week! And that’s just within the office. With the proliferation of smartphones, we’re constantly plugged in and checking our emails wherever we are.

So given that we’re all flooded with emails, is there some way we can improve our email etiquette and lessen the recipient’s grief? According to a study done by Sane Box – a service that helps filter emails – recipients take an average of 67 seconds to clear their heads after reading one email. That means almost one-and-half hours per day just recovering from emails!

Here are some common “email crimes” … are you guilty of any of them?

1. CC-ing Everybody
Your intention was probably to keep everybody in the loop, but it’s actually counter-productive. Without proper instructions, people might get confused as to why they were CC-ed in the first place. It’s more effective to only include the specific people directly responsible for what needs to be done.

2. Endless Back-and-Forth
Sometimes, when it comes to complicated issues, it’s much easier to pick up the phone or meet the person face-to-face for a discussion. If you prefer to have everything in black and white, you can always send an email after your discussion to recap what had been discussed.

3. Sending Large Files
With services like Dropbox, WeTransfer and YouSendIt, there is no longer any reason to clog the recipient’s mailbox.

4. Watch Your Tone
Unless you’re communicating with a friend, avoid being overly friendly or overly curt in your emails. Remember, sarcasm and dry humour often doesn’t translate well in print, so save your scathing wit for your next face-to-face meeting.

5. Keep It Simple
Emails were not designed for long, lyrical prose. Keep your sentences short, and use bullet points where necessary.

With that, I leave you with this nifty little infographic that you can print out and refer to each time you’re about to hit “Send.”


What are YOUR email pet peeves? Tell us in the Comments section below!

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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