By Brenda McDermott, CPCU, SCLA, CIIP, SCLA, ARM, AIDA

Email etiquette. We’ve all heard that phrase before, right? So, what is email etiquette and why does it matter? In a world where more and more of our conversations are made by that faceless, emotionless form of communication that fills up our inboxes, it is even more critical than ever before to remember our email M-A-N-N-E-R-S.

M – Message. People are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of emails that make it through the spam filter. So, your subject line should clearly communicate the purpose of your email. Any email over more than a couple paragraphs and maybe four to six sentences in length is probably not going to be read in its entirety. So tell them why you’re writing in the subject line and get to the point in the body.

A – Attitude. Unlike face-to-face verbal communications where body language or tone, volume and speed of your voice can help the recipient better understand the emotional meaning behind the message, emails are just words that can lend themselves to whatever meaning the reader’s frame of reference interprets them as. Attempts at humor make be lost in an email and result in the reader being insulted or hurt. So use caution in the choice of words to be sure that you relay the attitude and message you intended.

N – NO ALL CAPS. Remember when I said that emails are emotionless or up to the interpretation of the reader and the feeling that the words communicate to them? Well, all caps have long been considered yelling. So don’t yell at your recipient.

N – Know Your Audience (the “k” is silent). Emails to friends and emails to customers and supervisors are not the same. It may be OK to use all caps (for excitement) and emojis if you’re emailing a friend but if you’re emailing your boss or a customer those are not appropriate. Business emails should be professional and only use jargon or acronyms if the party you’re writing understands the terms. Otherwise, use plain English and maintain a business tone.

E – Efficiency. If it takes you longer to type the email than to say it – pick up the phone. Remember to keep it brief or use the acronym KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. People have only so much time to read, interpret what you were trying to say, and respond. So if you can’t communicate the message efficiently in an email – pick up the phone.

R – Reply All. ‘Reply All’ is only appropriate if all of the recipients need to know all the other parties’ answers. Otherwise, if you are a party on an email with multiple recipients ‘Reply All’ should never be used.

S – Stop the madness. If the email conversation between you and the recipient extends beyond one or two replies, and the message still isn’t understood, or the recipient still has questions – stop the madness and pick up the phone, or go to the office and have a face-to-face conversation.

Make your friends and work family happy and mind your email manners.

Brenda McDermott, CPCU, SCLA, CIIP, SCLA, ARM, AIDA is a workers’ compensation claims specialist in The Hartford’s Major Case Unit. She is a past International Rookie and Claims Professional of the Year and past International CWC Speak-Off winner. She was the 2022 Region V Insurance Professional of the Year. She has been a long-term member of IAIP and served in multiple offices at the local, state, and regional levels. A past Region V RVP she is currently serving as the Region V Marketing Director and co-chair on the International Marketing and Today’s Insurance Professionals Committee. She is an MAL in Region V from Missouri.

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