Excerpted from an SHRM Blog by Jenni Stone, PHR, SHRM-CP

In most working environments, there are no hand-written rules surrounding proper email etiquette. Many of us know to avoid the obvious: politically incorrect cartoons, offensive video content, unforgiving language and other questionable materials.

But, it’s often the lapses in communication that result in conflict. For example, by simply pressing “forward” without an explanation or introduction, you leave the message’s meaning up to the recipient’s interpretation. You could quickly offend your recipient and create an unnecessary misunderstanding.

Think about this: While you may think that simply forwarding an article or e-newsletter is a great way to share useful content, if the title of that email is “Ways to Improve Your Attitude,” or “Ways to Stop Wasting Time,” the recipient may immediately see this as a personal attack.

Here are ten helpful guidelines. I encourage you to share them with your office!

1. Don’t Be Lazy: Clicking “Forward” with no explanation as we mentioned above, can create a great misunderstanding. If you are a manager passing along a task, you may come across as impersonal or rude. If you are forwarding an article, the recipient may think that article is intended for them personally. Long story short, if you’re sending something, provide the reason you are sending it.

2. Use Spellcheck: There’s nothing worse than tarnishing a powerful message or important email with numerous spelling errors. It reflects poorly upon you, and your business. A quick click to confirm all your spelling is correct will save you the embarrassment.

3. Control Your Urge to “Reply All:” “Reply All” is a bad habit to get into. Ask yourself: “Is this message relevant to every single recipient?” If no, don’t waste the time of others.

4. Confirm Receipt: Did you receive an email this morning that you won’t be able to address until tomorrow? Confirm receipt. Let the sender know that their email is going to be addressed and did not get intentionally ignored or land itself in the spam filter.

5. One Subject per Email: Do you have a lot of projects circulating around the office? One subject per email will help keep you and fellow employees organized. It will also make emails and resources surrounding a project easier to find when you are searching for it within your inbox.

6. Huge Attachment? STOP: Wait a minute, how big is that attachment? There is nothing worse than having your email backed up for a significant amount of time while it’s struggling to download something. If you have a large attachment, resort to other ways of sending it, or at the very least check with your recipient to see if it is okay to send.

7. Use Caps Sparingly: CAPS= SHOUTING. If something is important, it may be best to bold or italicize it. If it’s very important and the point you are making needs to be stressed, go ahead and use the caps. But use them sparingly!

8. End Emails with Positive Salutations: The subject of your email may not always be positive; in fact you may be delivering bad news. But, never fail to let people know they are in fact appreciated. Sign off with “Thank you,” “Regards,” “Much appreciated,” or other nice sayings.

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