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Email Etiquette: Get to Grips with Good Email Practice

23 December, 2019

How would your office function without email? Ever since its popularisation in the 90s, offices have made email an indispensable part of their everyday workflow. From arranging meetings and placing orders to organising the annual secret Santa, email has proven vital.

Whilst email has undoubtedly been a force for good, it isn’t without its perils. From emails sent to the wrong recipient to data leaks, there’s plenty of ways the humble email can turn dangerous.

It’s why good email etiquette is essential within an organisation. Oftentimes, breaches are as a direct result of uneducated email habits. It’s an under-appreciated piece of the cyber security puzzle, which is why we launched our Email Etiquette course to help shape workforce behaviour.

But what are the biggest contributors to email fails?

What Is the Biggest Contributor to Bad Email Etiquette?

Ask anyone about their email pain-points and you’ll hear one issue above all others: CCing (especially when it involves people who do not know each other).

The issue of when to CC and when to BCC is a crucial one for workplace security and, if you ask around your office, you’ll find that at least one of your colleagues has accidentally copied unrelated recipients into an email using the ‘to’ or ‘CC’ functions rather than the ‘BCC’ function.

What makes it such a common issue in the workplace? Well, there are a few theories.

One theory suggests that long days in the office mean lower concentration levels, resulting in seemingly innocuous mistakes. It’s a great case for regular breaks, even if it’s just a quick stroll across the office to chat with somebody!

That will certainly play a part, but the larger issue is training. Quite simply, few organisations train their employees on the correct way to handle emails. In fact, many people don’t even know that these functions exist.

What’s the Problem with Failing to BCC?

When you send emails without hiding personal email addresses with BCC, it allows those in the chain to access everyone’s information. From there, it’s trivial to launch spam, chain mail or even phishing attacks.

The knock-on effect from BCC misuse can be catastrophic to the reputation of a business. If not dealt with care, reputational and financial damage are realistic outcomes.

How to Avoid Email Disaster

Next time you send an email, make sure you follow Bob’s tips to avoid a potential disaster:

  • Make sure you use the ‘BCC’ function to hide email addresses when sending emails to unrelated individuals.
  • Make sure you proofread your emails more than once before sending them.
  • If you do send an email that contains personal details that it shouldn’t, then make sure you are sensitive to the victims and apologise straight away.
  • Enable a delay on emails so you can retrieve them within a set time limit in case you have realised you have made a mistake.
  • Note that emails have the same legal status as letters, so pay attention to any disclaimers or legal notices on emails sent to you - they can be actioned.

What Makes a Professional Email?

There is no science to writing an email that’s perfect for an office environment, but there are a few tips to making sure an email looks friendly, yet professional.

A few things to consider include:

  • Never start an email with the word ‘Hey’.
  • Try to avoid humour because it tends not to translate well in text.
  • Avoid using emojis.
  • Maintain a clear and serious tone.
  • Try to limit your use of exclamation marks, it can look unprofessional.
  • Proofread your emails more than once before sending.
  • Include a meaningful and straightforward subject.
  • Avoid the use of caps-lock, as this can come off as aggressive.

Good email etiquette isn’t something that can be mastered in a day, however. That’s why we recommend rolling out our Email Etiquette module across your workforce to help protect your valuable data and your reputation amongst the business community.

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