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The Business Email “Golden Rule”

Business email best practices and decorum.

Email Mistakes Happen

Every so often, you hear about pretty big screw-ups with email. Email and how it should (or shouldn’t be used) seems to be a pretty common topic recently.

When an email faux pas hits the mainstream media due to someone messing up at work or doing something with an email that they shouldn’t have, typically, I get emails asking for clarification on what is the best approach.

One question I get when these situations occur…

Can you advise how one can avoid doing (insert topic of the day here) again or in the future?

To which I always answer:

Here’s the business email “Golden Rule”: If you wouldn’t do it on company business letterhead, don’t do it in your business emails.


Follow the Business Email Golden Rule

For some reason, there is this assumed informality when it comes to email, which causes us not always to take the proper approach when it comes to our business emails. Informality many times is not conducive to professional communications.

I get the informality part when it comes to family and friends. But it is certainly not a wise assumption to make regarding your business email activities. To assume otherwise could cause lost business, opportunities, and even your job.

For example, you wouldn’t use the exact verbiage, grammar, or emoticons in your business email that you do with a group of friends when planning a weekend event, right? Of course not.

Business folks will always appreciate professionalism over an off-the-cuff, unpolished approach. Don’t worry about being cool and hip (unless your brand backs that up) with business associates or partners.

If you ever wonder what the proper thing to do is in the context of your email communications, just ask yourself, “Would I do this on company letterhead?” The answer to that question will guide you appropriately and allow you to be safe rather than sorry.

Business Decorum

Be on your best behavior with every business email you send on company time and when using your business email address. Forget that assumption about informality.

There is nothing informal about business success. Instead, be the epitome of formality until you know relaxing your approach is acceptable. And in some cases, that may never happen.

Strive for the highest levels of accuracy, clarity, proper grammar, and professionalism. Nothing less should be settled for.

That’s what professionals do. That’s the effort those with the desire and will to succeed never underestimate.

If you are new to the online business world, or even if you’ve been online for a while and may have underestimated the importance of Business Email Etiquette, why not read my article Business Email Etiquette Basics right now?

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