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Genevieve Gignac

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

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As a Co-op student, I have had to overcome my own self-doubt when it comes to my abilities. If you take anything from this guide, I want it to be: have confidence in your abilities as a Co-op student.

You probably know that dreadful feeling you get after opening an email that is so long your finger gets tired from scrolling. Likely, you were too consumed by the pain in your index finger during that moment to even retain any of the information written in that email. Please…don’t be that person who inflicts this pain on others!

For the past four months, I have been working from home in a communications Co-op role. During this time, I have realized the (often overlooked) importance of proper email etiquette. While the process of sending an email may seem intuitive, there are many considerations that should be made before hitting that “send” button. Therefore, I present to you, essential email etiquette tips every employee should know.

Know your audience

One of the most interesting email tips that I learned throughout my Co-op position is; there is not one “right” way to send an email. Everyone has their own preferred way to communicate and to be communicated with. Therefore, as the sender, it is your job to observe the emailing behaviours of your recipients and adjust your responses accordingly.

You will notice that some people prefer friendly chitchat and using emojis in their emails, while others prefer to get straight to the point – neither are “wrong”. By showing people that you understand their preferred communication style, you will also create a stronger working relationship with them.

Is email really the best medium?

Although email is a heavily used form of virtual communication in the workplace, it is not always the best medium for getting your message across. Next time you’re typing out an email, consider this question: Is email really the best way to communicate this message, or would a phone call/video chat/text message be a better option?

Be respectful of the recipient's time

When the recipient is opening your email, they should not have to search for more than 10 seconds to find the email’s purpose. I recommend you bold, highlight, or change the text colour of the most important information in the email. That way, even if your recipient is busy, they will absorb the most important information first.

Make proper use of that subject line

I always knew that it was important to make sure the subject line was reflective of what you say in your email, but until this Co-op position, I had not realized the true potential of that handy subject line.

For example, when I’m sending an important email now, I like to include in the subject line “Please review by end of day” or “Immediate action required” to ensure that important information, like due dates, are easily visible. On the other hand, when sending an email that does not require a response, say something in the subject line like: “No reply necessary” or “No action needed at this time”. Trust me with this type of formatting, the recipient will be thankful to have this information clearly visible in their inbox.

Your email matters

As a Co-op student, I have had to overcome my own self-doubt when it comes to my abilities. I’ve often caught myself starting off an email with those insecure words “so sorry to bother you” in fear of coming across as a nuisance. If you take anything from this guide, I want it to be: have confidence in your abilities as a Co-op student.

Just because you’re an “intern” doesn’t mean that what you have to say is not important (hint: especially if you’ve checked off the steps above!). Being confident in your email delivery will likely make the recipient more respectful toward you and take their time to send you a more thoughtful response.

About the Author

Genevieve Gignac

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication
Connect with Genevieve on LinkedIn.

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