Business E-mail Etiquette

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Whew. Y’all. It’s been one long day since last Thursday. In our small town, this past weekend was THE weekend – Hopkins County Stew Festival weekend. J I truly love this event. However, it’s also quite exhausting when you think of the preparation and clean up involved in feeding THOUSANDS of people within a two-hour block of time. We did it, though!

Now it’s back to blogging. We’re continuing the business etiquette blog series today with e-mail etiquette. As prevalent of a form of communication as e-mail is, I will go over general e-mail etiquette, too, for your convenience. I can be nice like that. J

Ok, general e-mail etiquette. Unless you’re 13, full words should be used. No “u” for “you.” Got it? The exception? In a business setting. I’m such the comedian. In all honesty, you absolutely may abbreviate words in an acceptable manner. For example, my real job (you know, the one that pays me) is at a bank. I could abbreviate BSA to stand for Bank Secrecy Act, as this would mean something to the receiver of an e-mail at my work. However, BSA can also stand for Boy Scouts of America. Unless the e-mail is specifically for business purposes AND the reader will understand said abbreviation, everything should be spelled out, at least initially.

Next, an e-mail should always include a signature of some kind. Type your name. Whatever is fine. Just don’t expect the receiver to automatically recognize your e-mail address and know it’s from you.

Also, if an e-mail is a group e-mail, reply all. It’s the equivalent to talking in person in a group.

Here’s a difference for you in casual e-mail vs. business e-mail. With business e-mail, there is no need to send a reply of “Thanks.” If a person wants to make sure you received it, they should request a read receipt. Business e-mail is for efficiency and not for your typical “fluff” etiquette. Kind of an oxymoron, given today’s topic, but it still applies.

With business, e-mail is considered a correct form of communication in all but just a few areas. A handwritten thank you still trumps an e-mails thank you, even in today’s world. Also, major news (a resignation, etc.) should not be delivered via e-mail. Your day-to-day correspondence, though, is totally fair game.

Finally, no e-mail should be forwarded without the original sender’s consent except in cases that are required by company policy to be sent to a supervisor.

I’d love to answer any additional business e-mail etiquette questions you may have! Thank you for reading!

Pregnancy Announcements At Work?

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Well here’s a new one, at least for me. With the current business etiquette series I have going, I have received some messages asking specific questions. One was in regards for how to “announce” you’re pregnant to your boss. The writer then went on to say that many people at work have done “cutesy” announcements, such as bringing a box of doughnuts to work with a note that reads, “Eat up! Mommy doesn’t want to be the only one with a big tummy.” Now, if you are at a small mom and pop shop or a family business, this may go over fine. Actually, if you work at a family business and announce this was to family, things may not go over so fine after all.

Anyhow, if you work in a traditional business environment and are not related to 90% of the other employees, please, please, please refrain from making any pregnancy announcement at work. As excited as you are for this, others may not be as emotionally attached.

For those who truly do need advice on informing their boss that you are pregnant, let me make a few etiquette suggestions.

For starters, you may tell your boss at any time during your pregnancy. You may want to wait until after the first 12 weeks. That’s completely fine. You may want to tell them instantly, as you may need time off for appointments with your doctor. Completely okay, too.

You want to let them know in a one-on-one environment. This is a personal occasion, and there may be questions they will need to ask, such as your due date or if you’re having any health complications that would require FMLA (if eligible) sooner than your due date that you may not want to share with everyone in your office. Also, your company may have additional pregnancy and/or maternity leave benefits that you will need to know about.

Once they are informed, that’s it. The office does not “owe” you a shower. Another question I had while starting this series is “When can you ask your job to throw you a shower?” Specifically, you never ask anyone to throw you a shower. If they do decide to host something in your honor, the same rules apply. Handwritten thank you notes should be sent out as soon after the event as you are able to manage.

I’m not sure what’s amped up the pregnancy announcement craze, but I’m going to blame Pinterest. While announcing to your friends in a fun way is fine, albeit debated in the etiquette world, announcing to your office is strictly off limits. I hope you learned something from this post!

If you have any follow-up questions, please feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment!

Thank you for reading!

Business Interview Etiquette – Both Sides

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Thank you for reading the first post regarding business etiquette! I am unsure how many parts for this series I will do, so I’m not numbering them. However, please let me know if there’s something you feel I haven’t adequately covered!

We briefly touched on introductions yesterday. Today we’ll continue to the interview process. When you are being interviewed, you should take your cues from the person(s) interviewing you, even if you are currently employed at the business. Often times during an internal interview for a new position, a person becomes too relaxed and comfortable, failing to make a good business impression. Remember you want them to consider you for the job you want, not the job you have.

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Likewise, it is important to dress your best for an interview. Keep in mind this should be appropriate for the job. However, even for manual labor jobs, dressing up is never a bad thing. Now, there will be the rogue company who wants to appeal to millennials (yes, I know I am one…) with their “jeans every single day” attire. However, as much as we may want to dismiss the notion, you are instantly judged on your appearance. Is it fair? Not necessarily, but what is?

This is not the time to try out new fashion trends you aren’t comfortable with. Along those lines, your attire should fit, and you should be comfortable in it so you aren’t distracted from the interview itself.

The person interviewing should extend their hand first. If they don’t, after a few moments, it is ok for the person being interviewed to initiate this.

Eye contact is appropriate, but don’t stare them down. This goes for both sides of the interview.

If you are applying for a position, prepare for your interview. Have the name of the person(s) who will interview you. Know a few basic facts about the company and/or the position. You will be more convincing on why you’re the right person for the job.

Do not interrupt the other person! Again, both sides.

At the end of the interview, shake hands and thank the person for his/her time.

After an interview, send a follow up e-mail or handwritten letter thanking them for their time and the opportunity to interview. As much as this is part of etiquette, it’s also just a good business tip for leaving a good impression. You may attach your contact information to this correspondence so they may more easily reach out to you. However, that is sufficient. It can appear to be a bribe if you send anything more (candies, etc.).

Regardless of the decision made, do not take it personally, unless there was true illegal discrimination against you.

Thank you for reading! Check back tomorrow for a briefing on e-mail etiquette. In the coming days, we’ll also talk about social media etiquette in regards to business! J

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Business Etiquette Basics

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Today’s etiquette topic is one I’ve gone back and forth with. It was suggested by a good friend and supporter of this blog, so I decided to bite the bullet and just put it all out there. We’re going to talk about business etiquette. Why have I been indecisive on writing this, you ask? Well, in theory this post would be about placing your name badge on your right side, having a firm but not too hard handshake, etc. However, the real lack of business etiquette in today’s world consists of a lack of respect and decorum. Are you noticing a trend on “respect” lately? Hmm….I digress.

To start, I do want to cover some business basics. When you are in a business setting, some of the traditional etiquette functions go by the wayside. In business, men and women are equals, all other things equal. Men would not primarily open doors for their women co-workers. It would simply be whomever got to the door first. Now, I feel the need to add a caveat in here. I live in the South. Many traditions spill over into business, and this is an area that strongly does. If I am approaching a door at the same time a male is, I can guarantee they will beat me to door every time. Though this is definitely not necessary, I appreciate the thought behind it.

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Now, business etiquette for both males and females.

The name tag should, in fact, be placed on your right side. The reasoning: You extend your right arm when greeting someone, and their eye is immediately drawn to that area, making name recognition for them. Also, your handshake should be firm but not hard. This is not a time to show them how strong you are.

The person who has the higher rank extends their hand first, if the two are meeting on their own. Otherwise, the “less important” person is introduced to the “more important” person. Both men and women should stand when meeting someone. However, there is an exception to this rule. If it is a formal business affair, women may remain seated, as it may be physically more difficult to move a chair in a dressy gown. Also, if people are physically unable to stand, of course they remain seated.

Titles, if used, should be used uniformly. You would never say, Jane Smith, may I introduce Mr. John Smith. In business, if you do not know a woman’s marital status, Ms. is perfectly appropriate. Along the lines of titles, you do not use a title of “Doctor” when being used unless you are a medical doctor. The only exception is if you are a Doctor of the area in which you work. So, if your doctoral degree is in English, and you are an English teacher, you may be called “Doctor.” If, however, your degree is in English, and you are in banking, you would not use that title.

I hope these guidelines help you feel more comfortable in your daily business life! I will continue this series with e-mail etiquette, interviewing etiquette and other parts of etiquette that are applicable to business.

Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Church Etiquette For Youth, Part 2

I hope the first part in the series wasn’t too off base for you. This part may not be what you’re expecting, either.

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We, as adults, have an obligation for setting standards for our youth. At an age that is appropriate for the denomination, older youth should have ways to help the church, whether that is being part of the choir, an acolyte, an usher or whatever job is age appropriate. With proper adult guidance, these youth will become the active part of the church. Without them, the church is literally dying.

Kids are much more capable than we often give them credit for. Unless it is against the rules of a particular church, it is proper etiquette for adult church leaders to offer roles to youth. It is important to get parental approval first, though.

Adults, give the same respect to a child participating in a worship service as you would give another adult. If an acolyte is walking down the aisle, don’t cut them off to rush out, unless it is truly an emergency. There is a sacredness to each act, and if we want our youth to respect it, we should, too.

Adults and older youth – if you see a parent with his or her hands’ full, please open the door for them.

Adults – please do not touch young babies without the parent’s permission. If you are sick, wait until you are well.

Now we’re about to get into some grayer area.

As mentioned in a previous post, kids should be dressed respectfully. If they are not walking, though, there is no need for shoes other than parents’ choice. If an outfit is extremely uncomfortable for a child, please don’t dress them in it. It is unlikely they will be still, and they will probably try to escape out of it.

Parents, it is your responsibility to only take your children to worship services when they are well. Just like babies are susceptible to illnesses, the elderly are, as well.

I hope these two posts will help adults and children have more grace and respect for each other. Life isn’t a Pinterest board, and things will not be perfect all of the time. However, through etiquette, we can feel more comfortable in knowing what expectations are set for us.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thank you for reading!