Hi friends! I’m on a train right now, heading from Kingston to Toronto after a work event. Because I’ve been out of the office, I’ve been checking, sorting, and replying to a number of emails. It’s got me thinking about some of the little things that are so common in emails that drive me a little bit nuts. Maybe you do some of these things when you email, or maybe you’ve noticed others doing them too!
Answering an email with a brand new one
I’m talking about not using the “Reply” button when replying. I’m not sure how this happens. I suppose if you had recorded the question elsewhere (like on a sticky note) and didn’t bother looking for the original message, this could happen… But on the receiving end, it can cause some confusion, especially if it’s not clear exactly what you’re responding to.
Fix it by: Hitting “Reply”.
Deviating from the email chain topic
This is the opposite of the above. Obviously, you can write an email about multiple topics, but if it’s part of an ongoing chain, it’s best to keep things separate and clear. This is especially helpful for someone like me – I store all of my old emails in folders based on topic, so it gets a little complicated when chains start fitting into lots of otherwise unrelated categories.
Fit it by: Creating a New Chain about the New Topic.
Mixing up CC: and To:
Okay, I’ll admit, this is just personal preference. When I receive an email, I find it very helpful to see whether I have been CC’ed (that’s “Carbon Copied”, for you Gen Zs) or actually addressed directly. This tells me whether I should read the email for my knowledge, or if I should be looking for action items or questions to answer. (Not to mention, I’m sure some people don’t expect to reply to emails if they’re only CC’ed – so if you’re asking them a question, you might not get an answer for a while.) Keeping with this, I will actually go out of my way to modify email chains such that only the intended recipient is listed under “To:”. Anyone else is CC’ed.
Fix it by: Using “To:” for People You Directly Address, and “CC:” for Others.
So, I have to ask: am I crazy? Or do these things bug you too? Either way, keep these in mind when you send your next email!
Want more email etiquette pet peeves? Check out Part 2 here!