20-40-60 Etiquette---How should I answer emails, texts?---How about email thanks yous?
YOU ASK! WE ANSWER! YOU DECIDE!
By Callie Athey, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace
QUESTION: Is there a certain etiquette for e-messages? Should you always text back? Can you write thank you notes by email? Are you obligated to answer all emails?
CALLIE’S ANSWER: Depending on the context of the email or text, yes there are courtesies. I tend to mostly write hand-written thank you notes as it is seen as more thoughtful. That being said, I do send an email thank you on occasion. No need to always text back.
LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: For some of these questions, there’s a right answer (yes, handwritten notes are always better, more thoughtful and appropriate for certain gestures and gifts) and there is an answer that is better than silence (an email thank-you or some other acknowledgement). As for texting back, most of the time, you should text back as a courtesy and as part of a conversation, although I don’t believe that every text requires an immediate response. If you are in the middle of something and if you are making the effort to stay present with the people in front of you, you don’t have to take a break to answer an unsolicited interruption, even if we’re in the habit of being connected to our phones all the time. Do the best you can to not leave people hanging, but it’s also easy to miss texts and emails in the barrage. Give someone else who hasn’t answered you yet the benefit of the doubt, and try again.
HELEN’S ANSWER: There are all kinds of opinions about texting, emailing and phone calls. Most people have 24-7 access to their phones, but there are some people who don’t. People usually can tell if someone is expecting an answer back via text, and so they should act accordingly.
If they don’t answer soon enough, then call them, unless you have said specifically “text me back.” A timeline for the response would be good. Seeing a number that comes up on caller ID or via text does not always warrant a call back.
And there are many, many people who are totally bogged down in emails and texts, so that they might miss a few. Give them the benefit of the doubt. You can write some thank-yous via email, but a handwritten note is still the best method of communicating.
GUEST’S ANSWER: Kirsten Cash, speech-language pathologist, wife and mother of four: Regarding always texting back, it depends on with whom you are conversing. If it is someone whom you frequently text, not every text requires a response. Obviously, you would want to answer a question. Conversely, if it is a business or more formal person on the other end, I would err on the side of responding to texts. If the other person makes a closing statement such as “sounds good” or “got it,” I will often simply use a thumbs up emoji to indicate we are all good and no further communication is necessary.
Non-handwritten thank-you notes are informal to say the least. I would suggest using good judgment and consideration. If you are thanking someone for leaving a cup of coffee on your desk, an email will suffice. If you are thanking someone for watching your house while you are on vacation, a handwritten note is absolutely necessary. It shows a more genuine level of appreciation when you take that minute to handwrite your note of thanks.
When it comes to answering all emails, again, it depends on multiple factors. Is the email a personal note to only you? Yes, answer it. Is it an email to a group providing information that does not require any action on your part? No, not necessary to answer. Is it a group email that does require action on your end? Yes, reply.
My rule of thumb for issues such as these is the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. I would urge you to always err on the side of courteous and considerate responses. In these situations, when in doubt…do!
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman Read more ›
Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a... Read more ›