Thursday, April 11, 2013

"But I Sent You An E-Mail About It!" Time To Reconsider Your E-Mail Etiquette

How often do you hear that? Not only are we missing communications, but many of people are getting sloppy with their e-mail. In the days of pen and paper letters, we never would have made the errors that we see daily on professional electronic correspondence.

When e-mail first hit the company I worked for, in 1994, my department was taken into an empty room. Jeff, our top IT guy paired us up, each partner holding one end of a sixteen foot rope. We stood across from each other with our ropes intersecting. Jeff took ten pieces of paper folded in half so they could hang on the rope. By now, I was feeling pretty ridiculous participating in yet another time wasting, corporate "team building" exercise. Jeff explained how e-mail moved throughout the LAN (local area network) sliding the pieces of paper across the ropes, some taking a turn to a new rope, some clogging up at an intersection.

Thirteen years later I'm glad I had participated in that drill. On top of that visual understanding of e-mail traffic, I remember Jeff's instructions on e-mailing procedures and etiquette.

E-mail is not better than a conversation.

E-mail is not faster than a phone call.

E-mail will not replace #1 or #2.

Company e-mail is not private or a privilege.

Don't put anything in an e-mail that you would not want your boss (spouse, children, best friend) to see.

Any e-mail that that goes back and forth more than three times probably needs a personal, two-way conversation either on the phone or in person.

The In-Box is not a filing cabinet. Read it, act on it, file it in a permanent file and delete it.

Here are a few more:

Change the "Subject" to reflect the new topic in a reply.

Don't use "Emoticons" like ;-) in professional correspondence.

Spell out acronyms or cryptic abbreviations as in text messaging

Spell check and proof read, especially professional emails

Don't send very personal e-mails on company e-mail. Even if deleted your message can be resurrected and may affect your career.

And the most important:

If it's really important, time sensitive or getting heated, call don't type.

Linda Henning- Image Works Publishing -

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