Monday, May 12, 2014

Email Etiquette

Email Etiquette
Belinda @ Kids Matter
If you were to start listing your pet peeves, where on that list would email fall? With me, it ranks right up there in the top five. Several years ago, I embarked on a project called Get It Write. The project provides training on how to use email properly and delivers a comprehensive look at how to utilize email efficiently and effectively. The information contained in this article is very minimal in comparison to the project, but it does highlight the most common complaints.  You may think, how complicated is email when we use it every day. Well, think about it… if it’s in your top 10 list of pet peeves then there has to be a problem somewhere!
Top five complaints:
1.     People don’t respond in a timely manner or don’t respond at all.
2.     Content has a harsh tone.
3.     Content is not well thought-out and organized.
4.     Content has numerous misspellings and lacks proper punctuation.
5.     Misuse of group email, causing an overload on servers and inboxes.
This is where the many shades of gray come into play. What is priority for one person may not be for another. That being said, there should NEVER be an email that goes without a response if a question has been asked. Email is a form of communication, just as if you were standing in front of a person having a face to face conversation. Would you allow the person you are conversing with to ask a question and you not answer? The objective is the same via email conversation. Out of common courtesy, a response should be sent within 24 hours. By not responding, you are conveying to the writer that the content of the email is not important. Writers should not take the lack of response as a personal attack. The content is deemed not important, not the writer.
Emails are easily misinterpreted due to the reader projecting their own emotion into the email. Business emails are meant to be direct and to the point. It may sound curt, but in reality is no different that standing in front of your boss taking instructions. No one is out to get you. Your personal feelings should remain in check when conversing via email. You cannot see tears in an email, so the reader may not know that you are upset. Maybe the writer is having a bad day. Nothing sets a person off quicker than flaming (criticizing harshly via email). When writing emails do NOT use all capitalization, this conveys anger and yelling to the reader. Do not over use the exclamation point such as !!!!! (which are called bangs) and places great emphasis in the tone. Conduct yourself professionally just as if you were having a face to face conversation.
Think about what you are going to say. Put it into an order that the reader can easily follow such as: problem, cause, fix, and predicted results. People are much more open to hearing a problem, if they hear the problem and the fix at the same time. When presenting a person with a problem the first thing on their mind is, not another problem! Eliminate the feeling of being overwhelmed by stepping up and offering a solution. Never send an email with a one sentence statement… I have a problem. Emailing is not texting. Write complete thoughts and resolutions. Don’t be afraid to bullet or outline the content for easy following. You want to make a point and have it clearly followed by the reader.
Grammatically correct:
Proper spelling and use of punctuation are key factors in a successful email. There is absolutely no reason the writer cannot proof read and check for spelling errors. There is not a 30 second time limit on writing an email. Take the time to write it correctly and proof read it multiple times. If you can’t take the initiative to write a proper email, don’t expect the reader to take the time to figure out what you are trying to say.
Group emails:
At the top of each email you will see a “To” “CC” and “BCC”. Learn to use those fields appropriately when using group emails. The “To” field is directly to the person you need to convey the information. The “CC” field is a carbon copy which is sent to someone for informational purposes and probably doesn’t require a response from them. The “BCC” field is a blind carbon copy and is used for confidentiality purposes. The person in the BCC field remains unseen by people in the “To” and “CC” field. Even more importantly… know when to “reply” and “reply all”. Sometimes it is important to communicate to a group as a whole. Seldom is it ever necessary for each member to reply all to a group emailing. Let’s think about the impact this could have on the server, inboxes, and what it will do to the email platform. One person sends an email to a group of 20 people. That’s 20 emails. Those 20 people respond to all. That’s 400 emails (20x20) bringing the total to 420 now. Let’s say the conversation continues and each of the 20 responds to all again. Within just a very few minutes a total of 820 emails (20+400+400) just crossed the server slowing the process down to a crawl and clogging the server for important emails that need to go out.
Email responsibly. Write with professionalism. Read without emotion. Communicate effectively and efficiently.

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