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Communications Etiquette

Responding to workplace communications in a timely way is part of good business etiquette. Nothing frustrates coworkers and business associates more than unanswered emails, non responses to phone messages or inappropriate responses to work emails and texts.

Here are some tips to respond courteously and professionally to work emails, texts and phone calls to show that you know how to communicate effectively.:

Responding to emails:

  1.  It’s courteous to respond by the end of the day, if possible, but not longer than 24 hours. You don’t want to leave people hanging.
  2.  Avoid using ‘reply all’ – if it doesn’t pertain to all. It only adds to the bulk of a busy person’s Inbox. A response is generally needed by only the sender, who will summarize and send results to the group.
  3.  Acknowledge the email even if you can’t send the requested information right away. Send a quick response that you’re working on it and when you expect to have the information to the sender.
  4.  Stay on subject. Respond to the topic of the email, but avoid introducing a new subject in the same email thread. Start a new email instead.
  5.  Don’t always respond to an email with another email. Sometimes, it’s best to pick up the phone instead or have a face-to-face meeting if the tone or topic of the email is emotional, terse, or needs a lengthy discussion.

Responding to workplace texts:

  1.   You don’t have to have the last word. But if you need to say thanks or okay, say ‘thank you’ or ‘okay’ rather than ‘thankU’ or ‘k.’
  2.   Use emoticons sparingly in a response, and only with someone you know well professionally.
  3.   Group texts can be efficient, but only respond to the sender, not the entire group unless everyone in the group needs to see your response.
  4.   Don’t respond to an email with a text.
  5.  And, on a related note…use texts for short information, not for communicating lengthy information. For example, if you need to respond to a text with lengthier information or to send an attached document, send an email response instead. But, be sure to text the sender to alert them that the email is coming.

Responding to phone messages:

  1. Respond by the end of the day, if possible, but not longer than 24 hours. Again, you don’t want to leave people hanging.
  2. If you will be out of the office for an extended time, record an out-of-office voice message on your phone. This helps callers understand why you may not be able to respond as quickly.

These tips will convey courtesy and professionalism in all your responses to work emails,  texts and phone calls.

For more email etiquette tips, you may like to read 8 Rules for Business Email Etiquette.

Rachel Wagner is a licensed business etiquette expert, speaker and trainer. You may contact her at 918.970.4400 for additional information on her business etiquette training services or to speak at your event.