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VOL. 130 | NO. 100 | Friday, May 22, 2015

Angela Copeland

Death to Reply-All

ANGELA COPELAND | Special to The Daily News

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In the past two decades, the way we communicate has completely changed. Twenty years ago, email was somewhat of a novelty. Today, it’s a necessity.

It’s often more important you have access to your email than your office, or even your phone. Along with changes in our methods have come updates to the etiquette we use to communicate. When it comes to email, it’s important to pay attention to the unspoken rules to effectively get your message across.

A personal pet peeve is the reply-all. Reply-all allows you to send an email to an entire group after you receive a message addressed to a large number of people. The problem is, many people use it ineffectively.

Use reply-all to convey an important message to the entire group. Avoid using reply-all to say things like “Thanks,” or “Me too,” or “I can’t make that event, but have fun.” Just because no one speaks up doesn’t mean they haven’t noticed or are not at least a little annoyed. The worst part about reply-all is it’s like a virus. After one person does it, everyone else jumps on board.

Another important area is font. Pay attention to the one you’re using and the way you’re using it. Select a font that is fairly neutral looking. Try not to pick one that is difficult to read, and stay away from fonts that are much too large or small.

Be careful to use caps sparingly. When you use all capital letters, IT IMPLIES YOU ARE YELLING. I recently received an email from my doctor’s office, in all caps. I initially thought something was wrong, until I read the very casual, friendly message. I wondered why nobody had ever shared this rule of thumb with the office staff.

When you receive an email, do your best to respond within 24 hours. Not doing so can often make you appear to be unprofessional, rude or disorganized. If you don’t have time to give a full response, at least send an email to let the person know you received their message and will get back to them as soon as possible. With the strict spam filters today, acknowledging receipt of a message can take a weight off the sender’s mind.

If the topic you must address is very serious in nature, sad or incredibly urgent, pick up the phone. Although email is great, there are times when it doesn’t work well for anyone. Sending an email when you should really call leaves room for misinterpretations and misunderstandings. If the recipient is a busy person, consider sending an email to schedule a time to speak.

Last, but not least, select an up-to-date, professional email address. Countless companies have immediately dismissed someone due to their poor email address choice. Select an updated email provider such as Gmail, and use a professional sounding address that includes your name and not a made-up nickname or catchy phrase.

Following a few simple rules will greatly improve the impact of your emails.

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com.

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