Email Etiquette – the Proper ‘Hellos,’ ‘Goodbyes,’ and Handling of Conflicts

If you have ever wondered how to get the best replies in response to your emails (or at least get people to read them), you have come to the right place! We know that writing emails can be a challenge, especially when it comes to communicating ideas clearly and efficiently.

There are a few things to keep in mind, so we will be supplying you with tips and tricks to writing a complete and professional email. Plus, keep reading for a go-to format for emailing!

In order to organize your email in a professional manner, it is best to have a plan before you start emailing.

PAIBOC Email Planning

PAIBOC is the best way to organize that plan.

For a quick summary of what PAIBOC stands for, take a peek below:

P: Purpose

A: Audience

I: Information

B: Benefits

O: Objections

C: Context

For a little more context here is how to include these in your email.

First, purpose is the reason for writing your email. This can be to inform, persuade, or ask a question. This is the most important part of your email, and something you want to be sure to include.

Audience is who you are writing to. This can be an individual person or a group of people. Additionally, it could be someone who is your superior, or subordinate, which changes the tone of your email.

Information is also important. While you need to be sure to include all the relevant information in your email, you want to be sure not to overwhelm. We all have received emails in the past that have seemed like a 2-page wall of text. Anybody else just toss those in the trash?

Basically, include the most important information. Anything else should be sent in a more detailed memo, or discussed in person.

Benefits are how you are going to convince your audience of your request, idea, or purpose. While this isn’t necessary in all emails, it can be vital in some. Take the two below, for example:

Example One

Say you are writing to inform employees that they have the 4th of July off. There is no need to include benefits here. The benefit is vacation, which anyone reading can conclude.

Example Two

However, if you are writing to inform employees that you will be cutting staff members in the coming quarter, you really ought to include a benefit or two. Otherwise you are likely to have a mass exodus of employees, or significantly lacking team morale.

As far as objections are concerned, these are things that you can assume will be issues that need to be addressed. If there are easily noticed negative reactions or objections, and you know that there will be questions before the email is even sent, you want to be sure to address these ahead of time.

Addressing possible issues ahead of time has a number of benefits. For one, it is reassuring to the individual that you are emailing and makes you sound prepared and professional. For another, it prevents emailing back and forth, saving you both time and energy.

Finally, context. Obviously, this is important. Take our two email examples above. If you are emailing about a holiday, it is likely everyone already understands the context, and little more than a “Happy 4th! Enjoy your weekend!” is needed. However, with something like cutting down staff size, a little context will go a long way. Be this data about the company, plans to improve the issue in the future, or simply an explanation of why this is occurring.

Like we said, PAIBOC is a great way to organize your thoughts. But, you shouldn’t have even started to write your email yet. To do that, we need a totally different format.

How to Actually Format Your Email

Typically, this is going to include documenting your shared problem, the details of your problem, alternatives to your solution or issue, a request for action, and some form of a good will ending.

You also need a greeting to begin your email. This can include, depending on your relationship, a “Dear [name],” or “Hello.”

After that short introduction, utilize one sentence to describe your issue. And we do mean only one sentence. Just in case nobody reads further, it is important to get the purpose of your email across quickly and succinctly.

Once you have gotten your main point across, the body of the email is where you can include your information, benefits, and objections. Typically, these should be separated by two lines on the email, and each section should be 3-4 lines. These sections should not exceed 5 lines, at any point. That is when people stop reading!

If you have managed to get your point across clearly, and included all relevant and important information, it is time to sign off. While it may be tempting to just put your name or standard email signature, you should include a goodwill ending. This can be something like “If you would like to discuss this further, I am available at your convenience.” Alternatively, if it is close to the weekend, “Please let me know if you need any more information. Have a good weekend.”

Anything that ends the email on a positive and professional note is acceptable. After that is when you include your name (or what you prefer to go by) and your email signature.

To Sum Up…

It is super important to make sure that your emails are clear and professional. Here are a few more tips to making your writing the best it can be:

  1. Don’t include exclamation marks or all-capitalized words. This makes it sound like you are yelling, even if meant to emphasize something or sound excited. Commonly, exclamation marks are misinterpreted in emails and other forms of writing. 
  2. Additionally, make sure to end your email with something like “Best” or “Sincerely.” This makes you seem both more professional and more approachable. 
  3. Be clear and to the point. While I know we have harped upon the importance of clarity in an email, think about how much you want to read something that is long, confusing, or unclear. You don’t! Don’t make other people read things like that, either.

If you need to make your writing more professional, keep in mind the tips and formatting advice we have included above. While we know that writing emails can be a challenge, with a little forethought and planning, it is easy to communicate ideas clearly and efficiently.

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