Business email: 22 tips for appropriate communication

Business email

Business email

Email is the primary way businesses communicate, as well as how people interact with friends. But there are important differences between the style and content of these types of emails. The following are some tips to help you communicate appropriately on business email.


  1. Be careful what you say in emails. Remember that this is still professional communication. Re-read your emails before you send them to ensure you have been professional.
  2. Make sure you know your company policy about email communication so you are not caught out with personal email. Some companies will ban social networking sites. Some prohibit personal email on company computers. If you know the policy, you won’t make mistakes.
  3. Business communication is for recording, transferring or communicating information. It should not be overly emotional or full of non-factual information. It should be clear, concise and easy to understand
  4. Business communication should also express thoughts in a careful way. Think before you write, and think again before you send.
  5. If the email is particularly important, it may be beneficial to get someone else to read it before sending to a wider group. Often someone else will see flaws in your approach, and change the wording to be more objective.
  6. Business email should also protect confidentiality of the business, so be aware of what you are sending externally.
  7. Question whether you need an email at all. Would this be better done through a phone call or a meeting? If you think you are emotional about the issue, speaking about it can be better than writing so your thoughts are not captured in an email which may jeopardise your position later.
  8. Always state facts objectively, as opposed to your feelings on the matter. You can express an opinion but back it up with facts and not emotion.
  9. Don’t be abusive on email. Always use professional language.
  10. There is a difference between knowing something and hearing about something. Be sure you get your facts right. Don’t gossip on work email.
  11. Leave out irrelevant information from your communications. People are busy now so just state what is necessary.
  12. Make sure email headers contain enough information so people know what they are about to read.
  13. It is best to avoid humour and sarcasm in email as it doesn’t cross the medium well, especially if someone has a different sense of humour to you. Certain types of humour can also be considered harassment, so just avoid it in workplace communication. 
  14. Defamation is when untrue information is communicated that could damage someone’s reputation. This can sometimes be mistakenly done on email.
  15. Never email anything you don’t want that person to read – as chances are, they will end up seeing it even if they are not on the original mailing list.
  16. Email lasts forever. Even if you think you have deleted it, it can be pulled from the backups.
  17. Email is not always private. Assume it can be seen or accessed easily.
  18. Be careful if you communicate with your lawyer by e‑mail. In certain countries, doing so could result in the loss of the attorney-client privilege, since an e‑mail can be read by someone other than the attorney or client more easily than other forms of communication.
  19. Protect access to your computer and to your email accounts. Someone could send an email from your address that could jeopardise your position.
  20. Be careful of clicking “reply to all”. Do all those people really need to see your comments. Only copy people in if they need to be part of the decision/ communication.
  21. No copyrighted material should be transmitted unless you first obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you’re ever not sure if sending an e‑mail attachment will violate copyright laws, ask your company’s law department.
  22. When emailing a member of the opposite sex, keep all written business communication professional. Don’t flirt by email as this can easily be found out by others.
  23. Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl


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