WGI Email Etiquette

This course will introduce you to understanding how communications works and how to use this for proper email communication.

Communication 101 and Email Etiquette

Details - Please provide your name and email address.

Communication Model

Communication Model - SMCR

Email communication is comprised of four basic parts. There is the sender, the message, the channel, and the receiver. In the example to the left, the arrow represents our channel. 

All of these parts form the basis for how our communication is going to be received. In the following sections, we will review how this impacts our communication.

SMCR Model

The video above outlines the SMCR model of communication. The model reflects email communication most closely as it does not allow for feedback which is that the sender does not receive any immediate feedback like body language. It is a one-sided form of communication.



This is the person composing the message. This could be a friendly hello, a performance review, an email outlining expectations, etc. 

Message and Channel


This is the content of your message. This is an important step to consider in conjunction with your channel. Some messages are best done through different channels and can take on different meaning depending on the channel used and your relationship with the receiver. The message will typically include your tone of voice, punctuation (if written), pace, body language, etc. 


The channel is the mode in which you are sending your message. This can include emails, text messages (SMS), phone calls, face-to-face meetings, video conferences, etc. Note, that this also includes body language as our bodies can be a method of conveying a message.

A conversation about a recent report can take on different meanings depending on how the recipient interprets the message. For example:

"Your report is on fire!"

Depending on your relationship with the sender, the way it was communicated to you, and the tone in the sender's message can mean very different things. Either your report was very well done or you should be calling the fire department.



Your manager emails you and says "What is the status on the report?". How do you interpret this request?

  • My manager is micro-managing
  • My manager does not have faith that I will complete the report on time
  • My manager is following up to make sure that I know I have their support and create an opportunity to discuss any roadblocks

We can all interpret this message differently depending on how we feel about the sender and ourselves. 



This is the person receiving the message. They will use things like history with the sender, channel, and the message to try and interpret what the sender was trying to say. As we saw earlier, this is not always the easiest thing to do and can lead to miscommunication when we try to guess what the person was trying to say. 

When receiving a message, it is important to listen to the whole message and only prepare your response once the message has been completely received.

Solving Miscommunication

How do we solve miscommunication?

The best way to solve miscommunication is to ask for clarification. When you are unsure of the message, be sure to ask the sender to clarify the message. It is equally important that as the sender you try to anticipate how a message could be misinterpreted and try to correct that before you send your message.

Another way to ensure your message has been received in the way you intended is to ask the receiver to repeat what you said. This ensures that the receiver was actively listening to you and that they understood your message.

Emails and Communication


  • It is the sender's responsibility to ensure he/she is understood.
  • You have to consider the channel when preparing your message
  • Asking for clarification is annoying and should be avoided
  • Emails, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings are all examples of channels
  • The tone of your message can be conveyed through your voice, your body language, and your words.
  • To improve communication, the receiver should start preparing their response as the sender is communicating.

Composing an email

Email subject should identify the topic of the conversation

Most of us have to compete with the hundreds of emails clogging our inbox every day, so the clearer your subject line, the more likely your message will be read. For example, if you’re sending a proposal to someone, be specific and write, “The Fitch Proposal Is Attached.”


Your greeting should reflect the relationship you have with the recipients. You should always use professional greetings like Hello, Dear, or Hi. Greetings such as "What's up?" or "Yo" have no place in the business setting.


The content of your message should be as short and direct as it can be. Emails that are lengthy and full of unnecessary details run the risk of being ignored. Avoid things like jargon unless you know the recipient understands your lingo. 

Email Closing

In closing an email, you should remain formal and have a call to action if required. If you are expecting a response, consider including "I look forward to hearing from you". 

Writing an Email

Please order the following items in the way you should compose an email. You are writing an email to a known customer and you have had personal dealings with in the past.

  • Hello Mr. Smith,
  • I hope things are well.
  • The purpose of my email is to tell you about a special information session we are having on our new product line. I think it would be a great opportunity to learn more about this product line and a chance for us to reconnect so I can find out more about your current needs.
  • Information Session January 1, 2018 at 12:00 pm 123 Main Street, Winnipeg, MB
  • I hope to see you there.
  • Sincerely,

Why is email etiquette important?

Why is email etiquette important?

We all interact with the printed word as though it has a personality and that personality makes positive and negative impressions upon us. Without immediate feedback, your document can easily be misinterpreted by the reader so it is crucial that you follow the basic rules of etiquette to construct an appropriate tone.

Elements of Email Etiquette

  • General Format
  • Writing long messages
  • The curse of surprise

  • Flaming
  • Delivering information
  • Delivering bad news

The Basics

The Basics

  • Write a salutation for each new subject email
  • Try to the email brief (one screen length)
  • Return emails within the same time you would a phone call
  • Check for punctuation, spelling, and grammatical errors.
  • Use CAPS only when appropriate
  • Format your email for plain text rather than HTML
  • Use fonts and colours that have a professional or neutral look


  • Write in a positive tone. "When you the complete the report" instead of "If you complete the report"
  • Avoid negative words that begin with "un, non, ex" or that end with "less" (useless, non-existent, undecided"
  • Use smiles, winks and other graphical symbols only when appropriate.
  • Use contractions to add a friendly tone (don't, won't, can't)

Delivering bad news

  • Deliver the news up front
  • Avoid blaming statements
  • Avoid hedging words or words that sounds ambiguous
  • Maintain a positive resolve

The Basics cont'

The surprise email

  • Do not wait until the end of the day to introduce a problem or concern via email
  • Avoid writing a list of concerns that you have been harboring for a long period of time

Flaming Emails

  • Flaming is a virtual term for venting or sending inflammatory emails.
  • What you say cannot be taken back and you have no control on who the receiver shares it with. It is in black and white.
  • Before the send an email, ask yourself "would I say this to this person's face?" 
  • Calm down before responding to the email.
  • Read your message twice before you send it and look for ways your message may be misinterpreted.

When emails won't work

  • There are time when you need to take your discussion out of the virtual world and make a phone call.
  • If things become very heated, a lot of misunderstanding occurs, or when you are dealing with very delicate news, the best way is to request a meeting in person or over the phone.