Confessions of an overflowing inbox: The email etiquette article to send that one person in your practice



Veterinary practices have slowly but surely entered the digital age. Many are finally trading paper and faxing for electronic recordkeeping and emailing. With this shift comes increased communication with clients, vendors, coworkers, and other hospitals via email. How would you rate your email savviness and email etiquette?  

Below are some tips (or perhaps a refresher) on both internal and external email communication courtesy. You may or may not want to casually leave this article in the breakroom for that one person in your practice.  

All for one, not for reply all

Are you a dreaded “Reply All” repeat offender?  

Technology has changed the way we do business and email is often our main form of communication. Many of us receive hundreds of emails a day. Inboxes are overflowing, we are always connected, and often on multiple devices at all hours. Let’s spare everyone unnecessary emails by being mindful of reply all.  

Reply all is useful for collaboration on ideas or projects. It is also a great tool to share information if you feel others on the email thread may have the same question or concern. Reply all is not needed for responses specific to the sender such as thank you’s, welcomes, or when individual feedback or answers are solicited in a group email.

Don’t be that BCC guy

Using blind carbon copy (BCC) to secretly loop someone else into the conversation just feels “icky” and I highly recommend against it. 

There are only a couple scenarios in which you will find me using the BCC field in an email. 

  1. It can come in handy when sending out mass communication such as reminders or invitations to which you do not want to share everyone’s individual email addresses.
  2. The BCC field is also useful to remove someone from an email thread, such as in the case of an introduction. It’s a great way to thank them, let them know you are responding, but also save them from receiving the multiple responses that may follow.

KISS emailing – Keep it short and simple

Let’s apply the “KISS principle” to email, but in this case “Keep it Short and Simple.” 

Trust me, no one wants to read your novel, Karen – and quite frankly, ain’t nobody got time for that. Your message is more likely to be absorbed and you will likely receive a much faster response when the recipient is not overwhelmed by word count.  

Find yourself writing paragraph after paragraph? Pick up the phone; the situation likely warrants a phone call. When in doubt, bullet point it out – bulleted lists are much more likely to be read than paragraphs of text. 

Formal, yet friendly for the win

I’ll admit, I’m guilty of using an emoji or exclamation mark in my emails – but I try to do so sparingly. 

I think it’s a delicate balance with a number of determining factors such as:

  • Workplace culture
  • Email subject or situation
  • Relationship with recipient
  • Individual preference or personality

There really isn’t a right or wrong here but I tend to prefer a formal, yet friendly approach. Being too casual or overusing abbreviations, exclamations, slang, and emojis can come across as unprofessional. Limit to one if needed and know your audience.

Poofread your emails

Did you furrow your brow at the irony of that “mistake?”  

While I tend to be a bit of a stickler (I have admittedly been referred to as the “grammar police”), proofreading your emails before sending is a good habit. Communication laden with spelling and grammar errors can be hard to take seriously both internally and externally.  

Short on time? Do even just a quick scan for obvious errors. A read through can also help catch unintended tone as written communication is easily misunderstood.


Are you receiving follow-ups on a follow-up email? No Bueno, Bueller.  

Timely responses are not only appreciated, they are common courtesy. Responding to emails the same day or within the next business day is good practice.

If you’re jam-packed with meetings or an answer will require some digging/time, quickly acknowledge the email and state when a reply can be expected. Utilize Out-of-Office tools to inform senders that you are away and when you will return.  

And if you’re the sender, don’t be a drama queen – use the high-priority flags sparingly and save them for answers needed that are truly urgent or on a tight deadline. Click To Tweet


Email etiquette: you can teach an old dog new tricks

If you’re guilty of any email “crime” listed above, fear not. With a bit of practice and persistence, you can easily turn your email etiquette around. If you’ve been on the receiving end of some bad email etiquette, VetSuccess would love to hear about it. Share your horror story here. 



Chrissy McGregor, the author

Chrissy McGregor is a Veterinarian Recruiter for THRIVE Affordable Vet Care. She is passionate about veterinary medicine and has contributed her knowledge and expertise through numerous roles in the industry over the past 17 years. In addition to working at the hospital level as a technician, Chrissy has also held positions in Veterinary Sales, Sales Management, Training and Development, and Veterinary Recruiting. In her free time, Chrissy can be found on the volleyball courts and softball fields or planning her next vacation. Her other full-time job consists of caring for and doting on her 5 treasured, but extra needy pets; Bella, Aslan, Franklin, Ben, and Theodore.