Over the years, I’ve sent a few thousand emails.  Less than some, more than others and I’ve developed a handful of normative behaviors in the process that others may find useful.

  • My default on a group conversation is to always reply all.  Communication is oxygen and I figure it is best to error on the side of overcommunicating.  People can always choose to self-filter.  I love that gmail includes an option to make reply-all the default. Everyone should set it that way.
  • If I don’t reply all, in the first line I will use a minus symbol so the rest of the chain knows who (if anyone) has been removed.
  • Concurrently, if I add people, I use a plus symbol so the rest of the chain knows as well.
  • The only time I use BCC is to remove someone who made an introduction, and I will state that they are being BCCed
  • I try to make the subject line clear and simple. The subject line should be evergreen (it should encompass the entirety of the conversation that needs to take place)
  • If it can all be said in the subject line, I’ll end it with EOM so people know they don’t need to open it.
    • This is less of an issue with chat programs like Slack being available.
  • I hate email signatures that are more than a line or two.
  • If my response can be said completely in emoji, you bet your ass I’m going to do it.
    • I do only use emoji for positive responses though.  No one wants to see 👎🏻 as the response to a request.
  • I try to avoid sarcasm.  It is much harder to be sarcastic in writing than it is in a higher fidelity form of communication.

What are your email norms? What email etiquette do you follow? Share it in the comments.

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1 response from 1 other.

  1. Personally, I just try not to email unless it is the only medium available, or the rare time its the best medium. Having said that, I love the idea of using + and – to indicate people entering or leaving a thread. Much more concise and simple than trying to come up with “Looping ____ in here” or “Adding ____ because they are the SME” or whatever.

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