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Guidelines on sending emails at Blackfriars

Always be courteous: do not write anything that would be considered rude in a face-to-face meeting or over the telephone. Err on the side of caution. You cannot control how the tone of your email may be interpreted.  E.g. courtesy suggests that in contacting someone by email for the first time, you use an appropriate form of address: ‘Dear….’; and that you sign off respectfully: ‘Yours….’  This may then vary in subsequent correspondence according to how well you know the person: ‘Hi…’; or ‘Jeff, ….’; ‘best wishes’; ‘with thanks’; etc.

Do not expect an instant response to an email or text. Your addressee may be away from his/her desk, or may have other priorities. If your business is urgent, it may be wise to phone. If necessary, leave a voicemail with the necessary contact details.

Only cc. someone in to an email message (i), who should see it for a good reason and (ii), whom your addressee will therefore wish you to have copied in, or will at least understand why you think it appropriate to copy in. It is often appropriate to state briefly in the email the reason why someone has been copied in. Remember that it may be better to forward a copy of your email to someone else at a later date or separately. Do not copy in someone as a way of intimidating or embarrassing the addressee.

Use blind copy (bcc.) for mailing lists, so as not to give out contact details without the permission of the addressee.

Spelling still matters in emails! Take a moment to proof-read what you have written. It is a sign of courtesy, and also gives you valuable time to reconsider the merits of what you have written.

Very few emails require an immediate reply. If you are being asked to give your view or suggest a course of action, particularly if you feel very strongly about something, it may be wise to save messages to ‘draft’ and review them later the same day or the next day before sending.

If you take part in discussion groups, avoid becoming enmeshed in what are known as ‘flame wars’ – the lengthy swapping of highly charged letters of opposing views. Ask yourself what is gained and who will be persuaded.




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