Tips for Email Etiquette During a Global Crisis

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A person at a computer who appears to be working late.

It seems few things have been left unscathed in the wake of Covid-19. Times are tough and it’s essential to adjust your language to reflect that. Here are a few quick tips you can incorporate into your daily email correspondence to maintain proper etiquette during a pandemic.

Be sympathetic

While it’s important to acknowledge what’s happening in the world right now, be aware that many of us are feeling pandemic fatigue and don’t need to be reminded of Covid-19 in the first sentence of every email. Proceed with caution when typing greetings and sign-offs that may be received as insensitive. For instance, while ending an email with “make it a great day” might work for some as a simple well-wish, it can cause anxiety for those who might be sick or close to someone who is. Try to put yourself in the receiver’s shoes and consider how you might feel if you got this email. It’s hard to know what the right thing to say is—try to find a balance between compassion and professionalism, trust your instinct and remember that many people are struggling.

Know your audience

Are you writing to an internal or external audience? If you’re emailing a colleague that you’re close with, light-hearted humour might elicit a smile and create a sense of teamwork that’s hard to grasp outside the office. An external audience will require a more formal tone, but it’s still possible to express empathy and add a bit of a personal touch that can go a long way in these times of limited contact with others. Striking the right tone of kindness and sincerity can build rapport and even create a sense of global comradery.

Adjust your expectations

Given the current climate, it may take longer for your reader to respond. There are countless ways the person on the other side of the screen might be affected by the pandemic, whether it’s adjusting to moving their career online or maybe even taking care of a vulnerable family member. Have patience and be considerate of others’ time—it’s just as important as your own. If you require an immediate response, it’s probably best to pick up the phone.

Marie Antaya avatar

By Marie Antaya, CTDP

Author of The Eclectic Writing Series.