Introduction

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NUI Galway staff and students rely heavily on email to communicate within our university community and with the outside world. While other communication channels like Blackboard and MS Teams are growing in popularity, email remains important for staff, in particular, when they need an easy, reliable, traceable and asynchronous means of sharing information and files.

However, the overuse of email can lead to digital overload. This can lead to a number of negative outcomes such as stress, anxiety, miscommunication, indecision or poor decision making, procrastination and other counter-productive avoidance behaviour. We all need to be mindful of the impact of an excessively email-driven culture and make smart choices about what, when and how to communicate with others.

Increasingly, we are accessing our emails on multiple personal and work devices, and it is therefore all the more important to use emails productively and efficiently to enable our people to maintain a reasonable work-life balance and to disconnect from work.

Like all forms of communication, the way we express ourselves in emails is influenced by our personality, experience and articulacy, the mood we’re in and the pressure we’re under. We might inadvertently use email in a way that causes irritation or offence to the reader. It is important that we are all aware of how best to use emails to ensure that our university remains a positive, productive and respectful working and learning environment.

For the institution, good email etiquette helps maintain professionalism and protect from liability in the context of legal cases.

Top Tips

Respect Recipients' Time

Respect Recipients' Time

Take the time to make your message as clear, brief and relevant as possible.

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Cut to the Chase

Cut to the Chase

Start with a clear subject line and put the most important information at the beginning of your email.

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Spare the CCs

Spare the CCs

Who really needs to be copied into your email? Reduce the number of recipients, and only 'reply all' if necessary.

Structure Tips

Talk it Through

Talk it Through

Picking up the phone, dialling in on MS Teams or meeting in person could be much more productive.

Collegiality

Minimise Email Out-of-Hours

Minimise Email Out-of-Hours

You are not expected to respond to emails once you log out at the end of the working day.

Collegiality

Respond as Promptly as Possible

Respond as Promptly as Possible

If you cannot reply within a reasonable time (e.g. 48 hours) send a brief response to say the email is being dealt with.

Collegiality

Keep It Private

Keep It Private

Make sure you comply with GDPR. Be mindful that all emails can be subject to a Freedom of Information request.

GDPR & FOI

Tone doesn't Translate

Tone doesn't Translate

Keep your writing polite and professional to ensure your emails aren’t picked up wrong or inadvertently cause offence.

MORE ON STYLE

Consider your Carbon Footprint

Consider your Carbon Footprint

Reducing the number of emails, recipients and attachments can help in the fight against climate change.

STRUCTURE TIPS

Shift to Sharepoint

Shift to Sharepoint

Uploading files to Sharepoint is a great way to cut down on attachments, store information and work collaboratively.

SEE HOW

Be Kind!

Be Kind!

Be kind and polite, and appreciative of the time others are spending on your correspondence.

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