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Are you using proper business email etiquette?

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Everyday, we write business emails to internal and external customers; but we are often unaware of the reaction engendered by our mode of communication.

After the recent publication of the article "It's time to excel at writing business emails" on April 20, there is a real need to respond to a Facebook comment.

In response to the article's statement: "Recipients of your email may prefer privacy, especially if they are many", one commenter remarked, "I don't feel comfortable with the BCC element on emails sent within the business environment. BCC gives me the feeling that something is being hidden."

There are cases in which this is an understandable reaction, and for this reason it should be stipulated here that BCC or Blind Carbon Copy (the original name) should always be used appropriately.

  • It should never be used to prevent recipients from being aware of who the other recipients are
  • It should never be used as a subterfuge device.

Ideally, one uses the BCC to:

  • Communicate with a long list of recipients who may not necessarily know one another
  • Maintain the individual privacy of each one on that list in (a) the original message and (b) in any forwarded versions of the message
  • Avoid the encumbrance of long email lists in a person's inbox
  • Prevent spam and the spread of viruses.

As powerful a tool as the BCC is, however, a writer could help to avoid the surprise element for recipients in the TO: line of an email , and especially in the business environment, if mention is made in the body of the email that the message was sent to multiple recipients.

Writing business emails to both internal and external customers carries with it the need to observe certain courtesies and to be aware of the etiquette involved. We certainly maintain good customer and employee relations when we follow these important guidelines.

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