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Polite emails

Writing thank youWriting an email is so quick and easy that sometimes we forget it is in writing and still reflects on how we are perceived.

For starters, emails should be just as polite as letter or face-to-face contact. Apart from being likely to get a positive response to good manners, it is simply a sign of respect and professionalism.

I recently received an email from someone who runs a network which I don’t participate in. The second paragraph started with “If you are not a fan of using Forums, perhaps now is a good time to change your attitude.”

It didn’t help that there was no greeting to start the email (It opened with “Just a reminder to go to the Forum”)

I found this quite rude and it actually made me less likely to join her forums in case that is how I would be treated there as well. She made no allowance for people being busy, having concerns over online security* or not knowing how to use a forum – she just assumed I have a bad attitude and that I should change it to suit her.

So how do you keep an email polite?

  • start with a greeting, and preferably use the person’s name

  • use words like please and thank you

  • don’t insult people – if you must say something negative, put it in positive or constructive terms

  • be brief so you don’t waste their time

  • use proper sentences so it is easy to understand and you look intelligent and literate

  • treat the reader with respect – if you wouldn’t say it to their face, it isn’t appropriate to write it either

* Her email mentions that non-members can read the posts so I would have concerns about the security of the site.

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