7 Email Etiquette Rules For All Business Leaders

email etiquette

Emailing is part of the business realm, no doubt. In fact, it’s reported that the average worker sends about 121 emails daily, with 40 being the number of emails per day that are sent for business purposes. 

However, despite the intentions of businesspeople sending emails, there’s always that pet peeve of making mistakes in how you write and send out emails. Yes, even professionals can make mistakes too, when it comes to email on behalf of a company.  

So, what can be done to ensure professional emails every time, all the time?

In this article, we’ll show you 7 rules on how business leaders can properly write a professional email. These rules are the most modern and practical to date. Read on!

1. Send Emails With a Professional Email Address

Like every other employee, business leaders must use their professional email addresses. In other words, use a company email address. While it’s tempting to use your personal email account to send and answer emails, you may want to think twice about that.

In hindsight, your email address should convey your name, so that recipients know exactly who’s sending the email. With that said, avoid using email addresses that have the following:

  • Nicknames in the address
  • Inappropriate words or phrases
  • Things that you enjoy in your spare time (i.e. drinking, social media, etc.)

The professional email address should act as the first impression in your email for recipients (besides your subject line, which we’ll get to in the next section). So, be sure to keep it professional, even in the email address, since you’re representing your company or brand.

2. Have Appropriate Subject Lines and Salutations

Let’s face it: No recipient wants to be greeted with slang or profanities, especially whenever they get a professional email from professional personnel. That definitely applies to business leaders. When constructing your email, be sure to have professional-looking subject lines and salutations in it. 

First, your subject line should summarize and reflect the email as a whole. Plus, the subject line should be to the point, using as few words as possible. Examples of good subject lines are the following: 

  • “Quick question about your report”
  • “Suggestions for the proposal”
  • “Conference date changed”

As mentioned, your subject line (along with an appropriate email address) acts as the first impression for email recipients. In other words, people will decide whether or not to open an email based on what they see at first glance. So, if they see a subject line that’s appropriate and relevant to them, then they’re most likely to open the email. If they see a questionable or unprofessional-looking subject line, then they’ll either ignore or throw away the email.

As for your salutations, it’s important to greet recipients with a professional air. In other words, avoid casual expressions like:

  • “Hey, what’s up?
  • “Hi, folks.”
  • “Yo, what’s up?”

Casual and colloquial expressions make you seem laid-back and unprofessional, rather than professional and responsible, even if you’re emailing for a business. All business leaders must take into account what their salutations should be in their emails. 

So, make it your job to not use casual salutations in the workplace. How? By using proper salutations like “Hi” or “Hello.” When using said salutations, be sure to address the recipient by their legal name. For example, say “Hello, Richard” (or “Hi, Richard”) instead of “Hi, Richie!” (unless the person’s legal name is Richie). It’s important to treat the recipient with respect as you address them in an email.

3. Be Aware of Different Cultures and Writing

In truth, there’s no one way to communicate via email. In fact, it’s easy to fall into miscommunication with your recipients.

First and foremost, it’s possible that your recipients may speak a different language than you, or be from a different country – or both. Here are some examples:

  • High-context cultures like Arab, Chinese, and Japanese prefer that you tell them about yourself before getting to the “business” part of things. Whereas …
  • Low-context cultures like American, German, and Scandinavian would want you to be straightforward with your message.

Even though detecting body language isn’t possible for both sides of the coin, it’s still important to tailor your message based on the recipient’s background, or how familiar you are with them. More importantly, be sure to do a little research on the people that you wish to send emails to so that they don’t believe that you’ve come across their name and business out of the blue.

4. Reply to All Messages

Another rule to remember is to reply to ALL of your emails — even the ones that aren’t meant for you. Keep in mind: You’re a part of a business; and, as a business leader, you must be track of the types of emails that are being sent to you and everyone else in the company (i.e. group emails).

Now, while it’s difficult to respond to every email message that comes your way, you should still try to do so. In that case, there are certain emails to look out for: 

  • Email that’s been accidentally sent to you. (Chances are, the email must’ve been meant for someone else in your company. Then, you can forward the message to the right person or party.)
  • Emails were sent by accident, but later retracted due to an error on the sender’s part.
  • Emails inquiring who or whom they should send certain emails to. (In this case, a simple yet professional reply would suffice here, even if the sender works in the same place as you.)

So, if you’re wondering what the best reply would be for such situations, then here’s one you can try: “I apologize if you’re very busy at the moment, but perhaps you meant to send this email to someone else? I just thought to notify you on the matter, so that you can send it to the right person.” This reply goes to show that you can still correct the sender without being intrusive on the matter – still keeping a calm and professional demeanor.

5. Don’t Be Too Exclamatory or Abrupt

Exclamation marks are often used to indicate excitement or outrage. Therefore, when writing emails, be sure to use an exclamation point ONLY to convey excitement. 

While it might be tempting to use exclamation marks to convey excitement, overdoing can make your message sound disingenuous and demanding. So, be sure to keep exclamation points to a minimum as you write. Make sure that the email doesn’t sound harsh or unbelievable, or else it’ll sound that way to readers.

Also, try not to be abrupt in your message. That means avoiding negative wording like “wrong,” “failure,” etc. Write with integrity and professionalism, as you compose your emails.

That leads to the next rule, which is …

6. Proofread for Readability

Proofreading your email is essential to your work because no one would want to read an email that’s riddled with typos, grammar errors, etc. Plus, recipients – whether a client or someone else of importance – will question your professionalism, if you try to send them an email that’s flawed upon arrival. So, be sure to read through your email before you send it.

Plus, don’t heavily rely on spell-checkers, because sometimes, such tools can miss a few mistakes in the document. On the other hand, reading through the email yourself, and then rereading it a few more times aloud can help you spot mistakes before you send it.

In addition, make sure that you vary the length of your sentences and paragraphs. Try to have your sentences make sense by not having run-ons, long paragraphs, etc. If you need to list some points on a certain topic, then feel free to use bullet points to make those distinctions clear. Again, make your email readable to recipients.

7. Use Humor Wisely

Finally, humor is something that people can relate to. In fact, having a good laugh every once in a while is much appreciated.

However, when it comes to writing professional emails, it’s imperative to use humor sparingly and appropriately when communicating with another person. In fact, it’s recommended that in a professional exchange between you and another person (i.e. a client, another CEO, etc.) that you refrain from using humor in your emails PERIOD. Why is that?

Well, chances are, you might unintentionally upset someone with a shot of humor. Even if you know the recipient very well, it’s still good to leave out as much humor as possible, especially if the topic requires that both parties be serious about it. And, even when you’re in doubt on whether to include humor or not, then it’s best to leave it out entirely.


So, there you have it!

While these are just a handful of rules to learn in professional emailing, you – a business leader – must practice being professional in your writing, as you continue to communicate with other people in your company, clients, other companies, etc. Even as email is the preferred form of communication in today’s workplace, it’s still important to be responsible whenever you’re sending out emails. So, don’t let the convenience and tech-savvy part of emailing distract you from emailing the professional way! Be sure to remember these 7 email etiquette rules, and communicate to others via email with class and style!

Author Bio

Elizabeth Hines is a writer and editor at State of writing and Essay writer. As a digital marketer, she specializes in SEO search and social media advertising. As a content writer, she writes about the latest tech and marketing trends, innovations, and strategies.


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