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31 Essential Email Etiquette Tips

In today’s fast paced world, the information we need is often right at the touch of a smart phone button. The convenience of tapping or typing out quick emails and responses makes it tempting to hit send without giving much thought to what we have written. The tricky part is that unlike with personal messages, business emails blunders may have serious and far-reaching consequences. Our tone may be misinterpreted by the reader, we may inadvertently include confidential information, we may offend a reader from a different culture. Not taking the time to consistently deliver professionally drafted emails will invariably color our attitude to work as being inattentive, immature or sloppy.

The standard of quality of our email correspondence forms as much a part of our professional presence as the way we speak and the way we dress. Every email you send will either help to build your reputation as a competent professional, or run the risk of destroying the way you’re viewed at work. Etiquette may seem like a stuffy, old-fashioned concept, but there is nothing old-fashioned about having excellent standards. Perfecting and consistently applying good email etiquette will go a long way toward boosting your reputation with colleagues and bosses for years to come. It’s never too late to start forming positive new email habits.

Here are 31 essential professional email etiquette tips which should help you make a positive difference in most professional environments:

 

1. Ask yourself: Is it email worthy?

Avoid introducing highly confidential or private matters over email. If you would hesitate about broaching the topic publicly, then you should carefully consider the appropriateness of the contents before hitting send. Some topics should only be discussed behind closed doors, and face to face. Make a commitment to thinking twice about discussing sensitive issues via email.

2. Use a well-crafted subject line

Never leave an email subject line blank. Readers often decide if and how soon to open an email based on the subject line. Make a habit of giving your readers a concise snapshot of the contents to follow by using a precise and unambiguous subject line. If the topic in an email thread has changed, keep the subject line current, as well. Consider keeping the original subject in brackets.

3. Use an appropriate greeting

Each new email should always begin with an appropriate greeting and the name of the person you’re writing to. Dear _____, Good day _____, Hello _____and Hi _____ are all appropriate email greetings, in decreasing order of formality. Out of courtesy, try never begin an email with just the recipient’s name, or by going straight into the content. Save very informal greetings for casual friends.

4. Open on an agreeable note

Being pleasant to deal with, even in challenging situations, will increase your influence and help others enjoy working with you. On the other hand, being a Gruff Grady or Pessimistic Pete may have colleagues ignoring your emails until they’ve worked up the courage to open them. Make a commitment to conveying warmth in the very first line of every email. Sharing related good news, giving a sincere compliment or a personalised word of appreciation is a great way to open an email message.

5. Be concise

If your email recipient cannot quickly process what you have written, this is guaranteed to reduce the probability of a prompt response. Be concise when writing emails. Use clear language and avoid rambling sentences. Respect the recipient’s time. Don’t attempt to convey long drawn out incidents or complicated concepts via email. Be clear and up front about the email’s purpose and what you’re asking.

6. Maintain a positive tone throughout

Just like spoken communication, effective written communication is best achieved with a positive attitude. Using active, positive language and a high level of respect and courtesy in your emails will set the tone for your reader to mirror your behavior, and respond in like manner. Select your words carefully. Avoid negative or emotionally laden words, accusing statements and blaming. Practice using empathy, neutral word choice and clarifying questions instead.

7. Be structured and thorough

Be thorough. Email replies should answer all previously posed questions. Always respond point for point before introducing new information or making requests of your own. Avoid table-tennis email matches by making your best effort to pre-empt further questions by crafting a well-considered, thoughtful and efficient response.
Be structured. If you’re asking three questions, enumerated them clearly. When you’re responding to emails, do the same.

8. Use the AIDA formula

Use the AIDA formula when composing emails to improve the likelihood of a positive response to requests.

A: Get the attention of the reader with an appropriate subject line.

I:  Stimulate their interest with a pleasant opening sentence.

D: Create desire by explaining the details of the situation, clearly stating what’s in it for them.

A: Give a call to action with a request that outlines what you wish to happen next.

9. Use white space

Always make your emails simple to read and easy to scan. Do your best to minimize the need for scrolling, bearing in mind that many emails will be read on mobile devices. Make use of white space by limiting the length of each paragraph, and keeping your email to a maximum of three or four short paragraphs. Each paragraph should only be three or four lines long. Use paragraph titles in bold if you must cover more than a single topic in one email. Use bullet points or enumeration to add clarity to your content when possible.

10. Conclude intentionally

Make it a habit to close your email with confidence. Confidence breeds attraction and respect. End your email in a positive, optimistic manner that demonstrates you have confidence and anticipate the required response outlined. If you expect a response, conclude by saying so e.g. “I look forward to your response”, or “I look forward to us setting a meeting time”.

11. Sign off cordially

Your closing should be both warm and reflection of your personality. ‘Warm regards’, ‘Many thanks’ and ‘Cheers’ are all appropriate email sign offs. Don’t ever just close with your name alone, or worse – by abruptly leaving the reader hanging.

12. Always use a signature

Always use an email signature. A signature is an important contact tool, which makes it easy for your recipients to reach you. Set up an automatic signature on each of the email platforms you use, including all mobile devices. Your email signature should include your full name, position, company name and telephone contact number.

13. Use Cc and reply with care

Avoid drama, confusion and unnecessarily clogged inboxes, by taking the time to send email messages only to the right people. Be careful when replying to emails where numerous others have been cc’d. Instead of automatically clicking ‘reply all’, ask yourself if every one of the recipients needs the information in your message. Remove recipients who aren’t relevant. It is not necessary to respond if you have only been included in the cc line.

14. Use exclamation points sparingly

Excessive use of exclamation points puts you at risk of appearing overly emotional or immature, and of offending the reader. Only use exclamation points lightheartedly to convey excitement, never to convey anger, frustration or disappointment. As a rule of thumb, use a maximum of one exclamation point per email, and say no to using multiple punctuation marks e.g. ??? or !!! or ?!?

15. Be cautious with humour

Humour, irony and sarcasm can easily get lost in translation without the tone of voice or appropriate facial expressions to back them up. Comments perceived as funny when spoken may be interpreted very differently, perhaps even as offensive, when written. In a professional exchange, it’s better to leave  humour out of emails unless you know the recipient very well.

16. Be sensitive to your audience

People from varying backgrounds speak and write differently. Miscommunication occurs more often over email when we can’t see each other’s body language and facial expressions. Higher context cultures e.g. Asian, and Caribbean may appreciate a more polite, personal approach compared to lower context cultures where you can get straight to the point. Learn to balance your approach, and when in doubt, choose to err on the side of courtesy.

17. Respond in a timely manner

Emails should receive a response as swiftly as you would return a phone call—generally within the same working day. If you can’t provide the response or action within the required time frame, acknowledge the email and state clearly both your intended delivery date, and what your plan of action is e.g. research, contact supplier. While you may not be able to respond to every email immediately, avoid keeping the sender waiting for more than two business days.

18. Proofread before you send

Always read through each email before sending. Proofread to verify that you have not forgotten important details. Check thoroughly for spelling and grammatical errors and to ensure clarity of meaning. Set your email program to automatically spellcheck before sending. Be sure to double-check that your recipient’s name is spelled correctly.

19. Ban text-speak from your emails

Many common text-message abbreviations, emoticons, acronyms and slang are not appropriate for professional emails. Make it a habit to avoid using shortcuts to real words, even when you’re sending emails from mobile devices. Save the abbreviations such as Gr8, 4 u, IKR and BTW for instant message conversations with casual friends.

20. Avoid using ALL-CAPS

Writing emails, or portions of your emails in capital letters is considered to be shouting. Be courteous to your readers. Don’t yell; always avoid using all caps in written correspondence, even for emphasis.

21. Do you need to talk instead?

You may have started composing an email only to realize that the topic is too cumbersome to be effectively handled via this medium. Never use email as a means of covering a mistake, dodging an uncomfortable situation, or avoiding personal contact. ‘Well I sent you an email’ is a refrain too often used to avoid taking full responsibility. Pick up the phone and request a meeting when the topic is a potential “can of worms” i.e. has many parameters to be explained or negotiated or that may be potentially confusing.

22. Give a heads up when needed

Some emails should never be sent cold. It may be much more effective to prepare your reader in advance for what you are about to send. If your email is more than a few lines long, be sure to contact the person in advance to let them know. If you agree to do this in advance, emails also serve as great reminders of the salient points from quick meetings or telephone discussions.

23. Never send an angry email

If you are upset, disappointed or displeased about something, take a moment to calm down, then deal with it face to face, or over the telephone. Refrain from delivering bad news, reprimands, or firing an employee or supplier via email. Email is forever. Avoid writing something you may regret. Even if you are in the right, never adopt an arrogant, condescending, or demanding tone. Practice composing every email as if you were addressing a future employer or your most important client.

24. Be considerate with attachments

When providing email attachments, be sure to carefully list each item you are attaching, with a brief explanation of why you are sending it. Use meaningful file names for each attachment, and avoid sending large and numerous attachments unless necessary.

25. Run away from one-liners

If you’re expected to respond to an email, don’t cherry pick the points you will address. Be courteous enough to address all points thoroughly and respond using full sentences. Unless necessary, avoid sending one-liners such as ‘sure thing’ and ‘oh ok’, which do not advance the conversation in any way. If a response is not expected or required, don’t send one.

26. Avoid read and delivery receipts

Email delivery and read receipts are discourteous, and run the risk of annoying the reader, before he/she has even had a chance to read the message. If you want to know if your intended recipient has received your message, politely request a reply within a specified time frame, or pick up the phone and ask.

27. Respond to angry emails with care

When you receive an angry email, it is important to respond with great care. Investigate the details of the situation fully and speak with the offended party in person. When you respond, apologize first. Nest, express both concern and an empathetic understanding of the impact of the circumstances. Thirdly, explain. This way, it does not look like you’re merely letting yourself off the hook with an excuse.  Finally, offer a remedy or solution.

28. Respond to calendar invitations

Meeting invitations are emails, too. When you receive a meeting invitation via email, it is impolite to ignore it. Respond within an appropriate period of time letting the meeting organiser know if you plan on attending. You can accept, decline or accept tentatively. If you’re declining, be sure to edit the message before sending—briefly providing a polite explanation of  why you won’t be able to make it.

29. Avoid SPAM

Cute poems, off-color jokes, threats of 7 years of bad luck, Nigerian bank account promises, and other email hoaxes are often vehicles for malicious content. Worms, viruses or Trojan horses can find their way onto your computer and the company’s information systems via these emails. Delete junk mail as soon as you receive it. In professional settings, make a commitment never to forward this type of unsolicited email to anyone.

30. Your email is a reflection of you

Are your emails scattered, disorganized or filled with typos and grammatical mistakes? Are your emails curt, too short or have a rude or negative tone? Do your emails ramble on without getting to a clear point or request? You may not think so, but if your colleagues or bosses think so, they may also think poorly of your professional standards. Make your email a reflection of you. Begin with the end in mind; think of the professional image you want to project and make it a habit to ensure that your emails always reflect this.

31. Share the knowledge

Don’t assume your direct reports are familiar with the email etiquette standards you expect. Explain to them clearly the guidelines everyone should follow. As a minimum, ensure their email signatures are set up and that they adhere to standard company fonts and stationery. Share this post with your colleagues if you’ve found it to be useful.
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How to be a Winner: 10 Attitude-Adjusting Commitments to Make to Yourself

The Comfort of Mediocrity

Growing up, I struggled with low self-esteem. Sometimes I would get ‘A’s at school, but because of my poor self-image, I would often get ‘C’s and occasionally ‘F’s. I was bright and talented, but I was not confident enough to apply myself to my studies or to sports or to art. I was inconsistent – at everything.

I had a desire for success, but I wanted to do well without actually trying. I was mortified of daring to really study. What if I tried my best and then failed? Even worse, I was scared of putting in the effort, and actually succeeding. That would mean I would have to continue working hard to keep it up. Then the pressure would really be on. I remember being angry at my parents for not pushing me, but deep down I knew that it was my responsibility to live up to my own potential. It was only after leaving university that I decided to face my fears and begin working hard. It was only after adjusting my attitude that I began to succeed.

The comforting lie of mediocrity is that if we don’t bother to try, we won’t ever have to take responsibility for succeeding. Most people continue to fly beneath the radar and live below their potential because they’re terrified of deciding to be successful. Let’s face it, success is a scary thing.

Attitudes + Habits = Destiny

I read a lot. I soak up non-fiction, business books, books on self-development, classics and biographies. My reading is driven by a thirst for knowledge and for an appreciation of different perspectives. I am curious as to why is it that some people are happy, while others are not. Why is that some people succeed, and others don’t? After reading hundreds of books, and through my own experiences, I can conclude that the secret of success is a simple one.

Our attitudes, plus our habits shape our destiny. Our way of thinking shapes our prevailing attitude towards life. Our attitudes in turn direct our actions and our reactions. These daily practiced actions and reactions take on the predictable pattern that forms our habits. How we think, how we feel and what we do every day takes us step by step along the path that is our destiny.

It isn’t rocket science. The path you are on right now can be traced back to what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling and what you’re doing. If you feel like a victim, you will not act like a winner. If you think that you haven’t been given enough opportunities in life, you will not develop the habits that will help you to succeed.

If you want to achieve the happiness and success you desire, you must reset two things: your attitude, and your habits. In order to succeed, you must commit to adjusting the thoughts that go through your head every day. To be a winner, you must commit to reshaping your daily habits.

Here are ten commitments to make to yourself today to re-adjust your attitudes, re-shape your habits and re-set your destiny:

 

#1. I will succeed

Decide to challenge yourself to achieving the biggest, hairiest goal you can dream up for yourself. That dream exists in your heart because you know you have what it takes to do it. Don’t play it safe. Dare to make the new commitment to yourself: I will succeed.

#2. I accept full responsibility

When you make a decision to win, you must also accept responsibility for making it to your goal no matter what. Whether you’re from a challenging background, have no resources or have physical disabilities, you must make the commitment to yourself to accept full responsibility. Continue to say to yourself “I am responsible”. Repeat it over and over until it sinks in: “I accept full responsibility for my success”.

#3. I will decide on a strategy

Long-term success does not happen by accident. Figure out what needs to be done in order to achieve your goal. You don’t need to have the entire plan in mind; begin with a general idea. At each stage, you must know exactly what needs to be done next, otherwise you will choke. Commit to always pushing yourself to decide what comes next.

#4. I will do the work

This is the absolute hardest part. Planning and preparation can be fun and easy. Starting is hard. Doing is hard. Continuing to work after you’ve experienced failure is the hardest of all. But as every champion will tell you, there can be no success without first overcoming obstacles. You must do the work it takes to succeed. Commit to yourself: I will do the work.

#5. I will learn each day

In order to be a winner you must always be learning. Continuous growth and development are absolutely necessary to be a winner. Study your craft. Expand your mind. Read. Take the time to carefully analyze what’s working well, and what needs to be discarded. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Make the commitment to become better each day through learning.

#6. I will compete only with myself

There will always be people better looking than you, more talented than you, richer than you, smarter than you. Make the commitment to compete only with yourself. When you constantly challenge yourself to be better than you were the day before, you will come out on top. Commit: I will compete only with myself.

#7. I will make no excuses

Life constantly throws us curve balls. Hurricanes happen, banks fail, we get ill. Regardless of what fate throws your way, just keep going. Forget what’s happening around you and find inspiration in your added challenges. Refuse to ever make excuses.

#8. I will give 100%

In order to win, you must persist until you succeed. You must force yourself to give 100% of yourself every time. If you don’t, you just won’t make it. Go out determined to win every battle. There are so many stories of people who came so close. But that’s not you. You will make the commitment. You will always give 100%!

#9. I refuse to play small

Doing the work, learning every day and competing with yourself is not easy. The decision to succeed demands sacrifice and passion and dedication. Never pretend to yourself or anyone else that you aren’t going to win. The voice in your head that says you’ll never make it will always be greater than the external voices of discouragement. Once you become master of the voice in your own head, haters will not even exist for you. Poof! They will disappear. It’s not about being arrogant, just refuse to play small.

#10. I will never give up

Your journey will be a series of  ups and downs. There will be victories and there will be defeats. But, even when things look darkest, even after repeated failures, don’t ever give up. You’re on a path. You’ve chosen your destiny. You have made the commitment to succeed, and succeed you must.

 

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Three Reasons to Wake Up Early

I am a night owl by nature. I love to stay up late. I enjoy nighttime and have my most productive hours between 1am and 3am. In University and even early in my career, I could make miracles by staying up late. I would do last-minute cramming and finish off complex projects by pulling adrenaline-fueled all-nighters. But achieving this apex of productivity comes at a significant cost if you’re trying to hold down a day job. The downside would be the crash, the crankiness and other clear signs of sleep deprivation a few days later.

Although I have had an 8am start for most of my working career, it was not until I switched to a job with a 7:30am clock-in that I started embracing the joys of the 5am wake-up. Yes, 5am. If you’re a student or mother holding down a day job, then you can probably relate. Otherwise, getting out of bed this early  may seem strange to you.

Waking up at 5am made it possible to take my dog for a walk, get in some reading and quiet time and plan for my day. I could avoid the road rage associated with morning rush hour traffic, and get to work without feeling stressed. But it was not easy. In fact, sometimes it is still really hard and I have to constantly reinforce the habit. But more often that not, the stunning beauty and calming stillness of the morning more than makes up for it. I am in control of my day!

Waking up early and beating the sun has many clear benefits. I hope you will embrace it as part of your plan for a healthier, happier year and a more rewarding future. Here are my top three reasons for developing the habit getting up one to two hours earlier every day

1. Have more energy

Waking up early generally means getting to bed earlier. You will have to sacrifice falling asleep watching late night TV and you will probably have to say no to that last glass of wine, but you will reap the benefits of a clearer head when the alarm goes off. You will find that you have clarity throughout the day without the need for multiple cups of coffee.

2. Create time out of nowhere

When you beat the sun, you will create time out of nowhere. One or two hours per day translates into ten extra hours per week of uninterrupted time to get things done. You will be able to work on long-lost projects or brainstorm business ideas. You can work on a hobby or just get household chores done, get to the gym, have a proper breakfast, or a myriad of other things you previously didn’t have time for. Your productivity at work will increase, because you didn’t rush to get there. It is also likely that you will be able to leave work earlier and make more time for family, friends and creative pursuits.

3. Greet the day

Mornings are beautiful and still, cool, fresh and quiet. When you wake up before the rest of the world you greet the day with confidence. Watching the darkness disappear with the warm rays of the rising sun will give you a sense of deep calm and purpose. It is the perfect time for goal-setting, prayer or meditation — setting the tone for a powerful day. You will have more focus and better ideas because you will have time to map things out your way. Your coworkers and family will also find you more peaceful, calm and friendly.

 

There’s a high correlation between early rising and success, so get started by setting your alarm just a bit earlier tomorrow morning.

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Dalai Lama Morning Meditation

Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive.
I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.
I am going to use all my energies to develop myself,
To expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the
benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others.
I am not going to get angry, or think badly about others.
I am going to benefit others as much as I can

-Dalai Lama

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12 Nasty Illnesses You Can Prevent or Cure by Drinking More Water

A healthy body is made up of about 75% water. Every cell, organ and system in our bodies depends on water to work. We all know we should drink about eight glasses of water per day. Instead, we continue chugging on coffee, juice and sodas, while our bodies strain to function properly. Here are some particularly nasty conditions made worse by not drinking enough water.

1. Headaches

Dehydration is one of the most common causes of headaches in both adults and children. Our brains are up to 80% fluid and when we deprive our bodies of water, blood vessels narrow, and the supply of oxygen to the brain is cut off, sending off pain receptors in the lining of the skull.

2. Fatigue, Dizziness and Brain Fog

Dehydration causes enzymatic activity to slow down reducing the effectiveness of all systems in your body. As a result, you may feel light-headed, unable to concentrate and sleepy.

3. Susceptibility to Colds, Bronchitis and Flu

The mucous membranes of our respiratory systems depend on having enough water to stay moist.  When these membranes are too dry, they fail to trap infection-causing germs in the air we breathe. About to catch a cold? Drink more water and let your body do what it is designed to!

4. Constipation

When your body is deprived of water, too much liquid may be extracted from your food in the colon to give to other parts of the body. This may result in constipation.

5. Digestive Disorders

When you don’t drink enough water, your body does not secrete digestive juices in the proper proportions. As a result, your body is unable to effectively digest and fully extract all the nutrients from your food.

6. High and Low Blood Pressure

When you don’t drink enough water, your body may take water from your blood, increasing its concentration. Your heart then has to work harder to get oxygen to your tissues. Arteries, veins and capillaries have to try to adjust the volume of blood being pumped and this may result in high or low blood pressure.

7. Weight Gain, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity

Aside from the fact that thirst is often confused with hunger, dehydration causes our kidneys to stop functioning properly. The liver then has to help out the kidneys and as a result of that it slows down its rate of fat metabolism, causing us to gain weight.

8. Stomach Ulcers and Gastric Disorders

Some of the water we drink ends up as the mucous which protect membranes from being destroyed by the  digestive juices in the stomach. Dehydration dries out these membranes and can give rise to inflammation, stomach pain and ulcers.

9. Premature Aging of the Skin

Your skin is the largest organ of the body. Skin cells, like all other cells, are made up largely of water. Dehydration causes skin to be dry, tight and flaky, making it less resilient and more prone to wrinkling and skin disorders.

10. High Cholesterol

When we don’t drink enough water, our blood becomes concentrated and acidic. Overly acidic blood can damage our arteries or even cause embolisms of the brain, kidneys and other organs. To try to reduce this damage, the body produces excess cholesterol. Water is the cheapest and most effective cholesterol lowering drug.

11. Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections flourish when protective mucous membranes are dry. Regular urination helps to keep the bladder and urinary tract free from infection.

12. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Cartilage in our joints protects the bones in the joints from rubbing together. Dehydration dries the cartilage, causing it to try to compensate by taking water from the blood. A damaging hormonal chain reaction is then set off leading to the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.

Not having enough water causes so much bodily damage, that some health practitioners argue that it is the biggest health hazard facing modern populations. Some studies estimate that up to 75% of adults are chronically dehydrated.

Tips to Start Developing the Water Habit

1. Always have water within reach. Fill up a one-liter bottle of water to take with you everywhere and refill it during the day.
2. Start slowly. If you really don’t like water, start by diluting all sodas, juices and sweetened drinks with half water.
3. Reduce caffeine. Coffee, tea and colas are diuretics; they rid your body of  water, and eliminate useful electrolytes.
4. Use a straw. You will drink a lot more without even trying.
5. Develop a routine: drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning, one before you go to work, one when you get home and another one right before bed.
6. Keep track of your progress or enlist a buddy. Reward yourself for drinking your eight glasses per day.
7. Add a slice of lemon or a squirt of lime juice for zest and flavor.
8. Get bubbly. Sparkling water or club soda are just as effective at hydrating your body, and some people (like me) find it even more enjoyable and refreshing.