10 email etiquette to follow when replying to your boss

Email is the most dominant means of communication in the business world. In 2013, the majority of the email traffic emerged from the corporate realm with over 100 billion emails exchanged daily. Reports confirm that the growth statistics have been spiraling and will continue to do so. There are around 2.4 million emails sent every second.

An average employee receives roughly 121 emails and sends about 40 business emails in a day. It’s inevitable that you may end up making a slip while typing an email to your boss.



We all know that such a slip can be terrible though. It can seriously injure your impression. It can even slash the odds of you making it to the position that you had your eyes set on. In fact, mistakes in an email speak volumes of irresponsibility on your part, which is a serious issue concerning your professional growth.

So, before you go over the edge obsessing over the latest email blunder you made, it is better to take preventative steps in advance. Here are ten email etiquettes that you should stick by when replying to your boss:

  1. Address the correct person

Since you have a cluster of emails to respond to, it’s possible that you add the wrong recipient in haste. This can be embarrassing for you as well as the person who receives the mail that is not meant for him.

The author of “Wait, How Do I Write This Email?”, Danny Rubin talks about this issue too. He suggests that such a gaffe is also possible when you send an email to numerous people. So, make sure that you are addressing your boss when you start writing a reply. It’s best to take out some separate time when typing an email to your employer so that you’re entirely focused.

  1. Spell the name correctly

There are serious risks of offending someone if you misspell the recipient’s name. If you’re typing an email from a phone, your auto corrector can also mess with the spelling without you even noticing.

Barbara Pachter, the author of “The Essentials of Business Etiquette,” points out this fallacy. She explains, “Many people are insulted if their name is misspelled. Check for the correct spelling in the person’s signature block. You can also check their email address. Often, people’s first and/or last names are in their addresses.” This is a basic email etiquette to observe not only with your boss but also when you’re emailing a potential client.

  1. Keep snarky comments at bay

Don’t even think about replying to your head’s criticism with sarcasm or insulting comments. Often we think that we can write anything. In this context, a pro tip is to imagine if you can say such things to your boss in person. Since you’d rather refrain from such remarks to your boss in a face to face situation, it is best to avoid them in email too.

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  1. Don’t write in capitals

It is not wise to add an emoticon in your email to soften the blow of a bitter statement made by your boss. At the same time, don’t use capital letters in any part of the email. Capital wording translates into yelling. So, you would want to keep your fingers off of the caps lock on your keyboard.

  1. Reply via a professional email address

Since your reply is meant to be directed to your boss, send him an email from your professional email account. However, if you are a freelancer for the company or so, choose your email address carefully.

Your email address should include your name so that the receiver knows who you are. Additionally, sign the message with a professional email signature that narrates your position.

  1. Avoid misunderstandings

It is a well-known fact that written communication plants seeds of miscommunication. In fact, 90% of the management problems arise from miscommunications. Such problems can often be avoided if the issue is discussed in person. Since that can consume a lot of time, it is best to prevent writing confusing emails.

Firstly, don’t go over the board in your message. Just ask yourself if you would say such a thing if your boss were standing in front of you. If you think not, then don’t write it down. Secondly, don’t type what you think is confidential. See if you would be comfortable with the email being public. Lastly, try to be clear in your approach and don’t make your message wordy.

  1. Don’t forward long email threads

Ensure that your response is clear and to the point. Don’t reply to an email with a forwarded message that spans a long email thread. Such an email from your end is likely to get ignored. Tailor the email thread to your boss’s need. Cut out interesting sections and paste within the email. Give short explanations of each section to tell your boss why you attached them. Such an email will help save your chief’s time.

  1. Timing is key

Don’t send an off-the-clock email. While it might be tempting to mark off the reply to your boss from your to-do checklist, it’s best to avoid. By sending an answer when you are expected to be unplugged, you will only set your employer’s expectation bar high. This tends to disturb your work-life balance.

Moreover, don’t shoot a reply in the middle of a meeting or conference call. Nicole Williams, a LinkedIn career expert, points out that such timing is considered rude. She opines, “It’s essentially saying that your message is more important than what’s being discussed, which isn’t exactly professional.”

  1. Write short emails

Your boss is a busy bee, and he doesn’t have the time to read through lengthy emails. So, don’t waste time on curating detailed and lengthy messages. The director of corporate communications at HootSuite, Rob Hilsen, gives a golden tip.

He advises about saying what you have to within three sentences. Hilsen outlines that an email is great as long as it contains three or fewer sentences. If you are opening a new email thread, then make sure that you add a clear subject line too. Your boss gets multiple emails every minute. The email’s subject line is the only thing that grabs his attention. Also, never send an email without a subject.

  1. Proofread and use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation

Lastly, proofread your reply for any spelling mistakes or grammar issues. Be very careful with your punctuation and limit the use of exclamation marks. An overload of exclamation marks signals unprofessionalism and immaturity. Also, never start your email with ‘I.’

This is because it gives off the message that the other person is not as important as yourself. Don’t shorten your recipient’s name and use professional salutations. It is essential to take all these factors into account while replying to your employer. After all, he is your boss.


Ashley Rosa

Ashley Rosa is a freelance writer and blogger. As writing is her passion that why she loves to write articles related to the latest trends in technology and sometimes on health-tech as well. She is crazy about chocolates.
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