When speaking about etiquette thoughts of different sized forks, multiple plates, and formal dinner attire come to mind. But there are actually a number of different situations in which etiquette is needed; one of those being when you send an email. To make it easy let’s relate these two types of etiquette:

Arrival & Quick Responses

When arriving at a fancy dinner party, important restuarant, or whatever the event may be, proper etiquette requires you to arrive on time. On time in this case would actually even be 5 to 10 minutes EARLY.

Just like early arrival is important to dinner etiquette, a quick response is important to email etiquette. Don’t wait hours to get back to the person that emailed you; most likely whatever questions they asked you are important to them, and a speedy response is helpful.

There is one exemption to this rule: consider it the “don’t talk with your mouth full” rule. If the email you received has made you upset, DON’T respond right away. Take a few minutes to breath, relax, and think clearly before exploding in a nasty response. You never want to send things that you’ll regret later.

Dress Code & Subject Lines

If you knew you were going to a fancy restaurant with your bosses you wouldn’t wear your gardening jeans and crocs would you? No, you would dress according to the situation; in this case, you would put on your best dress and match some classy jewelry to it.

An email subject line is the same! Dress your subject in a relevant outfit to the email itself. It is easier for the recipient to recognize what the email is about and whether it is an urgent subject or not if you have given them a well thought out subject line to go off of.

Only Cut 1 Bite At A Time & Be Brief

Proper dinner etiquette is that you don’t scarf your food down as though you haven’t eaten in 3 days. Take your time, chew slowly, and be polite. This means that you don’t cut your entire steak all at once, you only cut the bit you are about to put in your mouth at that moment. Don’t get ahead of yourself!

Emails should be similar: brief. Don’t go on and on about why you can’t do this or that, or how amazing your daughter’s recital was last night. Keep the message short, succinct, and easily understandable. If the message gets too long, important information can end up buried and will never get read.

Where’s Your Napkin? Are You Using the Right Fork? & Double Check It

Where’s your napkin? You should have placed it on your lap within the first minute of sitting down! Are you using the proper fork? You better double check  that that isn’t your salad fork you are now plunging into your mashed potatoes.

Double check, double check! Just like you have to ensure you’ve been doing the proper things with the proper utensils, you have to check your emails to make sure you have attached those attachments you spoke about in the second paragraph. Did you put a coma where a period should have been? Punctuation can make or break you! Using improper punctuation can not only change the meaning of your email, but it can make you look bad, and let’s be honest, no one wants to look bad.

Keep it Clean & White Space

Keep your elbows off the table so that your arms don’t get dirty. Take small bites so that your face doesn’t get dirty. If you drop a piece of food you better hope nobody saw you do it!

In a similar sense, keep your email clean. Keep your paragraphs short; when paragraphs are short the reader doesn’t feel as intimidated about reading them. Keep everything in chunks, a chunky email allows for white space, and people like the clean look of white space.

Be Polite!

Just like you would say things like “please,” and “thank you” at your host’s extravagant party, adding a few please and thank yous to your email is polite and a kind way to let people know you appreciate the time they take to speak with you.