Happy New Year! New attitude? New habits? The past year brought many changes, unfortunately, when it comes to proper technology use, many still feel online is a free for all. Certainly that is not the case and is simply a misnomer to lend shelter to those who still do not want to make the effort to learn the online rules of the road.
Everyone can improve on their skills -- if they are willing. Remember, perception is the only reality online! Those you communicate with will form an impression about you based on how you choose to use technology - positive and negative alike.
For whatever reason, these issues in particular, are those that I notice are neglected by too many on a daily basis. Make a commitment to improve in these areas and you may find your online activities to be more enjoyable as well as more profitable and effective. It won't hurt; rather it will only add to the positive impression you will make with those who communicate with you.
Many who may never have the pleasure of meeting you in person will only have your use of technology to form their opinions about who you are and what you would be like to get to know, do business with or form a relationship with. The perception of the type of person you are, as well as whether you are a fish out of water online, will certainly be apparent by the efforts you choose to make or neglect in these areas.
- I will not forward an e-mail unless it specifically applies to the person I am sending to. I will include a personal note to that person so they know why I am forwarding that particular e-mail their way. If I must send or forward the same e-mail to a group of contacts, I will do so only when I put their e-mail addresses in the BCc: field to protect their privacy (especially if they don't know each other).
- I will also set a good example by removing any visible e-mail addresses within the body of the forward from previous irresponsible forwarders who did not feel the need to protect their contact's privacy. I will also make a point of down editing my e-mails to remove text that is irrelevant to the ongoing conversation.
- I will take the time to make sure that my sentences are complete, capitalized and include proper punctuation. Using proper sentence structure and taking the extra time to ensure that my intent and tone are clear, will do nothing but reflect positively on me. Making these efforts will go a long way to ensuring communicating with me is easy while having the added benefit of helping to avoid any misunderstandings.
- I will not send an unannounced large attachment of any kind, even the ones I think are very special photos of [insert here: my grand baby, my new car, sales flyer, Power Point presentation...], until I ask first when would be the best time to send it to the intended party. This way, I do not fill their e-mail box without notice causing all their other e-mail to bounce. The fact is I do not know what the other side's e-mail activity is like to assume my attachment will not cause any unnecessary problems for them. Think of the other side; not just of what you want to do.
- I will ensure that the Subject: field will include a brief and concise description of the content of every e-mail I send. I will modify or change the Subject: field when necessary to better display what my e-mail contains.
- Every e-mail I send will be courteous and include a proper greeting and closing which includes my name. Typed properly too! Names in small case or all caps reflect either a lack of education or tech savvy; neither of which is a good thing. Nice greetings and closings avoid my e-mails coming off as demanding or terse and reflect that I understand common courtesies.
- I will not copy or use any text, graphics or content from another Web site or author without their explicit permission to do so. The online world, contrary to popular belief, is not a public domain environment! I will not use another author's writings in whole or in part without them being aware of exactly what I am doing and where I will use their information. I will not post e-mails that were sent to me privately for any reason in a public forum without the original sender's permission. These are all serious copyright and privacy issues that I need to be aware of, practice and respect.
- I will refrain from formatting my e-mails with colored text, bolding and/or italics because I know it may not look as I intended when received on the other side. (Plus my e-mails may be mistakenly identified as spam!) I also understand by making the extra effort to add emphasis with formatting, it may be taken the wrong way or even over-emphasized by the recipient. I will learn to relay my thoughts clearly with the written word rather than having to rely on formatting. I understand if I take the time to choose my words carefully and reflect on how I use them, formatting is not necessary.
- When I sign up for a Web site service, newsletter or am sending an inquiry, I will take the time to add that site's e-mail address to my address book, white list or approved senders list so that the response can get through any spam blocking software my ISP, online service or that I may have in place. I understand that if I don't make this effort, the response to my request or subscription may not make it to my inbox.
- I will make a point of understanding each online service or Web site I choose to use by reading their Frequently Asked Questions, Terms of Service and Help area. I understand that I need to eliminate my actions or lack thereof as a possible cause of a perceived problem before pointing fingers at others. If in fact something does appear amiss, I will e-mail with courtesy asking for assistance in resolving my difficulties rather than making blunt demands or accusations based on my assumptions alone.
There you have it! Your 10 New Years E-mail Etiquette Resolutions to work on for the year ahead so that folks don't cringe when they see your name in their inbox. Just imagine if every onliner made these efforts? Joy, joy!