Email etiquette for beginners

We all send and receive a lot of emails every day – whether for work or for pleasure. That’s just the way things have been going, and email is a very convenient way to communicate with people without ever having to meet them IRL. It can also be a useful way of ‘reaching out’ to people to establish a professional bond with them in the hope that some day, after a couple of emails, you will be able to gain their respect and perhaps meet them IRL – or talk to them on the phone. (IDK, whatever works.)

When I was doing a bit of (pre-pandemic) reporting, I used to email a lot of people. I’d send off a flurry and hope some of them would land and sometimes they did and other times they didn’t. Emails are very easy to ignore, which is a major advantage for the recipient. If you’ve received an email that annoys you, chances are you’re going to leave it in your inbox to rot along with 10,000 others. If you send a lot of emails you need to bear this in mind.

Let’s look at some common email faux pas together. I don’t know a lot, but I do have reasonable experience in matters email etiquette…

Opening DON’TS –> DOs

Hi yoUir nÃme spelt rong,

This is not about spelling and grammar, it’s about having the cop on to spend a few seconds looking at the name of the person whom you intend to email. If you don’t get their name right what hope is there for your future dealings with this person? My name is spelled incorrectly all the time in emails by people who should know better. It doesn’t matter if it’s a difficult name with more poorly placed consonants than your average German word, get it right! I’m always very impressed when people do get my name right in emails so it really does make a good impression. Or perhaps I’m a raging narcissist.

Dear Sir & Howya horse!

It’s tough to know whether to err on the side of formality or informality when emailing some people, but I find a simple ‘Hi First Name Spelled Correctly,’ to do the trick. It’s respectful, democratic, and not overly fussy. Also, if you’re sending a formal email to a woman editor and you want to say Dear so-and-so, don’t call her ‘Sir’ because she probably won’t be impressed. Don’t call her horse either.

Middle Tips

Spit it out!

This is self-explanatory, but in case it isn’t I mean don’t take all day to say something very simple. Emails ain’t the place for flowery phraseology; they should be clear and concise. Ernest Hemingway, a man famed for his exact prose style said “Know how complicated it is and then state it simply,” which is good advice. Whenever I have to write a difficult email I always think of Ernest Hemingway and I ask myself how would Hemingway phrase this. No, seriously, I do. If I’m very stuck I sometimes recite his famous six-word short story for inspiration… (“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”) If I’m very, very stuck I get up and leave the email unsent in drafts, because as Hemingway also said: “The first draft of anything is shit.” You don’t want to be sending shit emails… I get back to it later.

Be polite. Use short sentences.

By all accounts, Hemingway wasn’t a man for the politeness, but he was great at the short sentences. Don’t let your modifiers dangle or your clauses ramble because your email will confuse the hell out of your reader, who may have a very full inbox to wade through. Appeal to their better nature by using yours, and by being polite. Chances are they will be more well disposed towards answering you if you’re sound to them.

Closing DON’Ts –> DOs

Yours faithfully

Woah, chillax there will ya horse? There’s no need to be so cold, so clinical, so posh in signing off. Who do you think you’re writing to? The Queen. Not likely if you’re reading this, mate. Say ‘Yours Sincerely’ if you really want to be serious but don’t go overboard.

Best

I’m always flummoxed by this one. What do people mean when they sign off like this? They might as well just go directly to signing their name at the end of their spiel. It’s passive-aggressive. I know that people who only know me through email don’t particularly care about my hopes and dreams and deepest feelings, but something a little more personal wouldn’t kill them would it? Do I not deserve ‘All the best’? See also ‘Regards’ v ‘Kind regards’

B

B is for Bláthnaid, in this instance. But it could also be for ‘bellend’ because a lot of people just put the first letter of their name when signing off so you have to look at their professional auto-signature and get intimidated. Just write your full name even if you do have one of those fancy signatures. You can turn off the signature after the first correspondence and just take the 2 seconds it takes to type your full name. What makes me laugh is this stunt is usually used by people with really short names like Bo.

12 free content ideas for the lads n’ ladies moving into the Irish TikTok house

A bunch of semi-famous Irish teens and twenty-somethings are moving into a lovely, posh mansion in Dublin to make content on TikTok together. Their big move was featured in the national media today, which angered a lot of old fogeys, including myself. What exactly angers me about these TikTokkers moving in together to stream and vlog away to their hearts’ content is buried deep in my subconscious where it will stay.

I decided a more productive use of my outrage would be to imagine what it must be like to be a Gen-Z Irish TikTok content creator. I managed to come up with twelve content ideas that these housemates could potentially use if they were ever stuck, like. The ideas are tailored to what I imagine young TikTok users enjoy. (The only caveat is I have never used TikTok, so I haven’t a clue what I’m on about – which is why I’m allowing free access to my twelve ideas. They can think of it as a moving-in present.)

  1. How to be a radical feminist while maintaining a successful OnlyFans business

2. ‘Don’t sit down’ and other tips for home bleaching sensitive areas

3. This Disney-themed doorbell is a chick magnet. Now, if only I could find the clitoris.

4. I gave up my weekly fake tan application because it triggered my Sinn Féin voting friends

5. All my ex-girlfriends have anger management problems, in this 24-hour video I explain why that isn’t my fault

6. Pooing etiquette for mixed-gender households

7. My idiot housemate flushed the toilet but I wasn’t finished live-blogging the shit I took which looked like two crocodiles dancing and now I’m out of relatable Bristol Stool chart content

8. I (27 male) slept with an older woman, (30) and now I finally appreciate everything my mother did for me

9. 5 make-up looks inspired by antidepressants #poppinprozac #litlyrica #yasqweensertraline #efFLEXor #yumyumlithium

10. Why I do 100 squats a day. Hint: to hide the fact I have no personality or goals in life

11. Is it a strapless bra or a belt? We show you how to get the most out of your wardrobe, but you have to be a size 6 and have no tits.

12. I do the latest TikTok dance challenge dressed in my neon clothes I got from depop and you eejits are loving it because you’re sad and wish you were me

Lingua franca

I love language and accents. If you have a different accent to me and I know you quite well – or well enough to know you won’t be offended or freaked out, I’ll probably ‘do’ your accent – especially if there’s a gin and tonic or seven involved. It’s my party trick and arguably less offensive than my singing.

Here’s a list of how native European language speakers sound when they speak.

Connemara, Ireland/Irish: You are explaining to your daughter-in-law how you peel a spud using as many vowels as possible. You are doing your best morose chicken impersonation.

France/French: You have something lodged in your throat but you’re continuing with the philosophy lecture if it kills you. You’ve just kissed someone and their moustache has gotten in your mouth.

Italy/Italian: You are loudly trying to make a decision and to delay time you are adding an extra vowel to the end of every word. You are having a breakdown because your espresso machine has broken.

Spain/Spanish: You are trying to blow a bubble with some bubblegum but you are failing so the letters b and p just keeps coming out of your mouth frantically. You are competing against your fellow Spaniards to see who can say the most at once.

Germany/German: You are describing the mass murder you have just committed in forensic detail using as many consonants as possible. You didn’t like the play you just saw and you are forcefully trying to get your money back.

Portugal/Portuguese: You’ve spent your whole life being compared to the bubblegum chewing fast talking people and you are sad. Really you are a mixture of romantic sweetness and philosophical lecture with as many z sounds as possible.

Sweden/Swedish: You’ve been caught in bed with someone else by your partner and you find you don’t care even though you are trying to drunkenly explain yourself.

Poland/Polish: You greet your friends nasally and with vodka. Everything you say seems to be prefixed with a sh.

Holland/Dutch: You manage to sound both surprised and stoned all the time. The secret is in your excessive use of vowels.

Scotland/English: You sound like you are spitting but you are really just remarking on the weather. It’s shite. Everything you say sounds like an absurd, beautiful limerick.

North England/English: Your mouth is so full of chewing gum Alex Ferguson has nothing on you. You might be drunk it’s hard to tell.

South England, Wales/ English: You thought you’d get more done if you shoved a generator up your rectum but you sound insane. Otherwise you’re pretty chill.

Posh English: You have an ice pick up your back passage and you like it.

Yorkshire English: The foreman has caught you asleep on the job and you are trying to pretend you are very very awake. You are trying to hold a conversation on a rollercoaster and succeeding.

Cork English: You speak in the manner of a fly buzzing because you don’t know what real people sound like.

Kerry English: There’s a h in everything. You are drunk and your mouth is full of soil and song.

Dublin ‘D4’ English: You tried to get an ice pick up your back passage but it melted so you are a bit sore and your vowels are all elongated, roooight. You’ve been making us culchies feel inadequate since The Celtic Tiger was a kitten.

Dublin inner city English: You want to have a friendly fight. You are ideologically opposed to the letter t. Speaking of t it’s Lyon’s, thanks.

Ulster, Ireland/Irish: You have just been given an electric shock and it is the most fun you’ve had in years. Go dté mar atá tú?

Donegal/English: You fell asleep happy and woke up sad. You are a human ukulele.