E-mail conversations sometimes take on a life of their own. Before you know it you have an endless subject field filled with Re:s and or Fwd:s. Here are some tips to keep in mind when hitting the REPLY and FWD buttons in your business e-mail communications:
How to Avoid Business E-mail Re: and Fwd: Confusion
- If the Subject: line has more than a handful of Re:s the thread needs to be terminated. Start a new email and update the Subject: line to reflect the current focus topic.
- Never forward without a personal comment about what and why you are forwarding. When you receive an e-mail with Fwd: edit down to the important part of the forward and add your personal comment before sending on or replying. Remember, forwarding without comment is generally perceived as demanding or rude. If you cannot take the time to type a short note explaining why you are forwarding — don’t forward.
- Carefully look at who was sent the e-mail before replying. When there are a bunch of Re: and Fwd:s in the subject field the current conversation may no longer apply to everyone. If your response will be necessary for all to know, then hit REPLY ALL. Otherwise review the To: and Cc: fields and only reply to those who need to know you comments.
- Setup your address book so that you can click on contact names and send them an e-mail. Don’t pull up an old e-mail, filled with Re:s, open it and hit REPLY and start typing about an unrelated issue. Start a new e-mail!
- Never forward those e-mails that look like they have been forwarded a bazillion times already just because they say to do so. Especially do not do so using your business e-mail address or forward these type of e-mails to business contacts. No matter how righteous the topic! If you must forward, edit down all the back and forth and leave in only the meat of the matter.
- When you hit REPLY, take the liberty to adjust the Subject: field to be more apropos to the topic of discussion if necessary. Like so: Re: New Pricing WAS: Widget Specs.
When it comes to the efforts you choose to make in your day-to-day business e-mail activities, paying attention to little details is important. The tips above can foster long term positive relationships and avoid the potential for misunderstanding.
Including that you will be an ease to communicate with.