Musing Monday: E-Mail Etiquette

Maybe I should rename the musings on Monday to “Monday Rants” or “Provoking Monday”. Not sure.
I was wondering about this all week, not the renaming but how people deal with emails.
Usually all emails I get are nice and polite, so nothing to moan about that. Now and then some people – friends, colleagues, customers, human beings – ask me to do a job for them. A little translation, a little correction in a letterhead … just some minor stuff … which I like to do and respond to that quickly. The human at the other end gets informed that I am working on her/his job and that s/he will get the result ASAP. At this point they usually send me an email or sometimes a tweet to tell me how happy they are.
Yes, I like it so far.
Job done, Helen sends email with pdf-file with the result.
Human being doesn’t react! Nothing, nada, niente … not sure whether the email got through  properly … disappointed Helen!
Now and then we hook up with each other on the phone and I dare to ask: “Did you get my email with the little job I did for you?” – “Oh yes yes, that was great. Thanks”
Ah, s/he received the email and is happy.
Brilliant to know!
I don’t want to sound picky, maybe this is the times we are living in… but where is the problem to send a little note: “Thanks I have received your mail, the pdf-file works smoothly and I am happy with the result”.
S/he found the time for a note when s/he needed my help, why not when receiving the result? Maybe one reason is, that s/he doesn’t have to pay me – a friendly turn!?
What do you think?
Am I picky or are some people just impolite?


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25 thoughts on “Musing Monday: E-Mail Etiquette

  1. Pingback: Lack of Email Manners & Tacky Customer Service Frustration

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  4. I completely agree! I have worked with several people through e-mail, not only personally, but from large organizations and foundations regarding speeches or articles they wanted me to write by a certain date. I get back to them usually about a day before it’s due and I hear nothing at all. I don’t want to pester them and e-mail them again several times over, but who knows where your e-mail goes once it’s sent. Did it even get there? You want me to get something to you by a deadline, yet I don’t know if you’ve received it by said deadline and I definitely want to keep my reputation up of responding in a timely manner so that I’m asked to do things like this in the future! It’s definitely frustrating and I think etiquette with e-mail (and oh goodness every thing else) has really been slacking!

    • see this is the moment i really like autoresponders.
      if the company is big enough, why not setting up an autoresponder sayubg “dear miss we hae received your email and appreciate that you met the deadine!”
      this can be done!
      we are working hard to meet deadlines even on weekends and boom nothing … yes common etiquette is slacking a lot!

  5. Thanks, Helen, for describing a growing problem we all share. Not just with email, but with all sorts of online engagement. It’s as though our correspondent is thinking, if I can’t SEE ’em, it’s OK to ignore ’em. We couldn’t get away with this kind of thinking at a dinner party.
    Last Tuesday I blogged about Seth Godin and a list of tips for send polite, effective emails. You might enjoy reading it: http://bit.ly/MdvFID

    • thanks for the interesting link robbie.
      what bothers me most with this problem is that especially people you know personally don.t have the courtesy to reply to an email with which you delivered some work.
      we all care so much about blogging and responding to every comment just to keep up social media but we lack in the P2P communication?
      what.s wrong?

  6. Johnson’s suggestion that you ask for a confirming email upon receipt certainly works and if you don’t get one, send a follow-up email inquiring about the receipt. It’s rare that you get a thank you note even within your own family any more, much less an acknowledgment of something done for someone via cyberspace – I think you have to ask – what if they didn’t receive it (unlikely) and they just think you ignored the request?

    • you are right christine … some of the ignorer are members of the famil.
      so i will give johson.s suggestion a try.
      but i really hate to ask for things that are part of common politeness. “please – thank you – how are you” 🙂

  7. I’m sorry but I just think that the majority of people who do not reply when you send the work through that you’ve done for them are just being rude. And even more so when they are getting work done for free. I have a friend who is no longer doing any work for free because he got fed up with people just expecting it, not acknowledging it and certainly not spreading the word about the work he did to gain more business. If they received your work then they certainly got your email and there is no excuse for not acknowledging it…..I think it’s time most people actually placed a value on their work and their time, it’s the time that is often left out….it doesn’t need to always be money in some situations, I have asked a friend for some help with a particular task and have asked him if he wants cash or would he like some cooking done for him, as a single fella working long hours he was delighted with the deal I have worked out with him, I bake him a boiled fruit cake every 2 weeks and at the same time deliver several frozen dinners (home made) this is making life easier for him at this busy time of year. It’s a deal that both of us are happy with.

    • no need to exchange money all the time for the work.
      like the idea to give away cakes and dinners for some work that is done … i have a friend who is happy to help me with some handy man stuff. he likes to sit on my sofa and tak about whateva. his reward is: to get away from his every day problems for an hour or two.
      and i love to give him this space 🙂
      another meanwhile regular customer wasn.t able to pay me for the first work i did. so they invited me one day for a great dinner and gave me something they usually sell for money, something i could have hardly afforded. now i run around, wear it and tell people all the time how awesome they are. they do it vice versus.!
      so yes i think i will stop doing stuff for free, that will be the best solution. otherwise some guys won.t see the value in the work “it is for free, so you do.t have to bother!”

  8. Maybe she’s afraid if she acknowledges your help, she will owe you a fee. (I think she does anyway…)

    • interestingly some of the friends who ask me for such a favor tell me right the moment they ask “i can.t pay you anything” others announce a little fee which never arrives. so i am not sure what they actually think.

  9. I agree that it is polite to respond… um especially in a professional context. This happens enough, though, that I have take to thinking about email as the modern version of a message in a bottle and it helps me feel better about it for some reason.

    I have to admit that I am usually the one who hasn’t gotten back… yet. I move slowly a lot of the time and so my rant on the reverse side is when people (with understandable irritation) say to me, “I never heard from you so…” Never is a long time… and it hasn’t happened yet so if you are expecting a response between now and forever then I am still within my window.

    While I agree with you that it is polite to let people know that you hear them, a good way to increase your chances of a response would be to clarify a.) that you would like one and b.) by what time. For example: “Here are your revisions. I think they look fantastic! Will you get back to me by Wednesday afternoon so that I know you like them too?”

    What do you think?

    • interesting to think about email as modern message in a bottle.
      to me an email can be a letter too 🙂
      so if a customer asks me to work for him in what ever way … it is a letter, a job offer.
      we apply for jobs via email and expect the maybe future boss to get back to us.

      ok i have never heard from you is a bit harsh, since you are right, you fit perfectly into the time window.

      i see where you come from but as mentioned before: isn.t it pathetic that we have to ask for common human politeness?

  10. I don’t think you are being picky as far as I’m concerned it’s just common courtesy to reply to emails but I guess people get caught up with other things and forget.

  11. I do get where you’re coming from, but my thought is that with the vast number of emails we get and the tremendous number of balls we’re juggling, I sometimes wonder if people just forget to send the email or thought they did.

    I find myself stopping and wondering where I am in the email machine. I get about 100 emails a day (sometimes more) and it’s easy to get behind on replies/follow ups.

    I think I follow up to make sure that someone received an email is great. I know that I appreciate it greatly when someone follows up with me.

    • i think i get the same amount of emails per day. some days even more.
      various lists, friends, work …
      what do i do? i use the ability of my email program to set up folders and rules.
      so normal work is guided to the work folder, mails from my sister will be directed to sister’s folder etc.
      usually i read the email, if it is easy to reply – thanks got your thougths – i do that at once.
      if i need longer reply, i will mark them as unread again.
      so i won.t forget anything.

  12. I don’t think people are busier than you, Helen. I think some people just forget common courtesies such as Please & Thank You.

    I have similar frustrations 😦 and drafted a post just earlier (before reading your post) about what bugs me after some customer service gaffas I just recently dealt with. I am editing my post for tomorrow and will add a link to your post as well, if that’s okay 🙂

    • some might be busier or they just have the ability to make everybody think that they are the busiest guys on earth 😆

      if you do it for money you can send them a bill and fine … but what bothers me is this “friendly task” and then no response at all … hey i spend my evening or sunday for that 😛

      looking forward to your post kimberly and sure link back 🙂
      interesting that we have similar stuff in the pipeline 🙂

  13. I come across this with people too — Email isn’t as dependable as people think and it’s nice to know the message has arrived even if they’re contemplating the contense.

    I think that it just doesn’t occur to some people, everyone does get busy but I definitely share in your frustration on this at times.

    • dear me girl you are quick!
      i haven.t yet started to promote this article 🙂
      quickest commenter ever!

      yes you are right, email is not that dependable as some people think, and a little feednack is always appreciated.

      problem is: everybody is busy, but i get the feeling that everybody else is more busy than me ;D

      • I have a really awful problem with Facebook messages! I will view them on my phone and forget to respond. I always feel awful about that… Chin up my dear — You know if they were unhappy they’d be sure to email you — You’re just that good no revisions are necessary. 😉

        • guess i would forget them too … but lucky me has no such phone which is able to let me check facebook messages and i don.t get that much facebook messages either

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