Email Etiquette: texting is killing it


Because you got someones email address off the faculty list doesn’t mean you can skip etiquette. Or proper grammar, spelling and basic sentence structure.

Don’t roll your eyes.  What you learned while communicating with your peers is not the same as proper communicating in emails. Meet people properly.  Market yourself with style.

I reviewed information on memo format and email etiquette at a variety of sources online and in some old books on etiquette after listening to the frustration from my wife, the Professor, as she vented about some of the emails she receives from college students.

She’s received emails like the two below, both from a new and unknown student the second week of Fall classes.

Email 1 – hey there i missed the first week of class. am I late on any assisnms when can i make them up

Email 2 – WHATSUP WHY dont you ANswer?

I wanted to help the professor and came up with the following replies for those types of emails.

Email Etiquette Example 1:

Subject: When emailing a professor use a formal tone.

Dear, Mr. Student and/or Ms. Student

In business, effective and appropriate email etiquette is important. This is no different in the school of business at NMHU. In the business world, people are classified by what they do, how they look, what they say, and how they say it. Getting off on the wrong foot with a potential employer, a new client, a new professor to name a few is easy to avoid if you communicate in a professional manner.

Avoid the belief that emails to professors or other staff dealing with your education are the same type you send to family and friends. This is also true for the business world. What you write and how you do it is a projection of your image. You are branding yourself with your words and actions just as one would a product in a marketing campaign.

Sincerely, Professor Ignacio Plato

Email Etiquette Example 2:

Subject: When is it okay to email your professor?

Dear, Mr. Student and/or Ms. Student

I can respond to emails when you have an easy question that can be answered in a paragraph or less and when you have an assignment that you are allowed to submit via email.

I can’t accept assignments through email if I haven’t approved it. If you want to ask for an extension for an assignment, do it in person. Don’t bring up any topic that will require continuous conversation. It is best to communicate face-to-face to prevent misunderstandings.

Sincerely, Professor Ignacio Plato

Attachment: email etiquette.doc

The first email to any new contact should use the highest level of respect. And keep using a formal title until the contact informs you otherwise.

Example: Hello, Professor Plato – Hello, Dr. Plato – Dear Mr. Plato Don’t start an email with Hey – Howdy – what’s up Plato

When emailing a professor, always include your full name, the class and the class time.

Example: My name is John Dewy. I am in your Business 181, MW 11-12:15pm class.

Write in a positive tone using black text in a standard font. Don’t use abbreviations, smiles, winks, etc, or negative language. The email should be short and to the point, it is best if it is no longer than a paragraph or two. Use correct spelling, punctuation and grammar. You are communicating with a professor as an educated adult. Use full sentences with proper structure. Don’t use all caps thinking it

makes something more important. Don’t use all lower case letters to communicate. You want to present a polished image. You do not want to come off as lacking education, business savvy or that you are lazy. The subject field is the first thing read and determines if the email will be opened or not. Have a short subject entry that clearly indicates what is inside the email.

At the end include a salutation and sign off with your name, first and last, and your email.

Sincerely, Professor Ignacio Plato

90 second rule

I need to remember this one.  So maybe it would be a good one for you too.

Take 90 seconds for a healthy and happy relationship.  If you have not seen a friend or family member for more than 2 hours since your last encounter, take the first 90 seconds of time to focus on that person.  Be sincere.  Do your best to look them in the eyes.  you know you are doing this when you can see the color of their eyes.   Communicate without focusing on anything else.  This is important in the days of cellphoneparenting.

Reboot People Skills

RebootImage this, before texting came along, people had a difficult time communicating face-to-face.  Now even the shyest person can ask out someone if they have the right digits and a cellphone.

Robert Boldton, Ph.D in his book People Skills writes that ineffective communication causes an interpersonal gap that is experienced in all facets of life and in all sectors of society.

Texting and the constant need to be hooked into a wifi-socialization notification ping pong match is not helping  to close this interpersonal gap Boldton describes. And his book is copyrighted in 1979.

Most people are not good at active listening.  Active listening is difficult.  We all do this – not listen intently enough to actually understand what another person is saying.

We might pretend to listen.  But we likely let our minds wander.  It might be what to do for lunch, that the person smells like garlic, or we pretend merely to listen until there is a pause and we can start to talk about what we want to say in words and gestures.

And if you are more intent on waiting for the next notification ping to sound or vibrate, then how intent can you ever really be?  The tenderness and intimacy is lost.

the Good Dope Days

We all need to be reminded from time to time that if you are not part of the future then get out of the way.

I heard a grandmother talk about how she hated that her grandchildren did not communicate with her unless made to do so by their parents.  The grandmother wanted to turn back time to the good dope days where children were mindful.

The parents did their best to teach their children to be respectful of their elders and made the children call the grandparents once a week.  But making someone do something against their will breeds resentment.

And those weekly Sunday night phone calls were an awful experience for all.

The parents had to herd up the children, dial the phone and stand guard as the children took a turn saying “hello Grandma” and then cringe as they responded to their grandmother with “yes” “no” “I don’t know” with a teenage hint of resentment enunciated with each reply.

For a long time the grandmother resisted reflecting on her role in this situation.  Maybe it was pride or perhaps it was fear of becoming old and outdated that kept her so stubborn.

Then one day she was given a smartphone with a one month contract.   She was told like it or not a major part of her grandchildren’s lives is digital socialization.  And one of their major occupations is caring for, and socializing on a smartphone.

She was taught how to text and she dropped the stubborn negative thoughts of her grandchildren and began to communicate with them in this new form.

The grandchildren loved the 160 character messages from their grandmother.  And no longer a chore assigned by their parents, they developed a digitally meaningful and gratifying relationship.

What was most rewarding, the parents no longer needed to force the children to call their grandmother, they spontaneously called her.

If she was able to reflect on the problem the grandmother might have seen her grandchildren are living a world apart from her good dope days. And what the grandmother needed was knowledge of the rules and techniques needed to communicate with these digitized grandchildren in their LED world.