Monday, April 7, 2008

Time for E-mail Etiquette Reminders

If the countless messages now in my “in box” are any indication of the larger electronic messaging community, it’s clearly time for a reminder about the basics of electronic communication protocols.

We all know by now not to send messages all in uppercase letters -- cyber “shouting” is never acceptable – but what other e-mail etiquette mistakes are we still making? Here’s my top three.

Monitor the monitor. I’m still getting lengthy e-mail messages that run more than one screen, making me scroll on and on. If you have that much content to share, perhaps consider writing a snail mail letter or fax, or even picking up the phone to call the person. E-mails are meant for fast sharing of information, not sending out mini white papers. If, however, you have an important attachment to send along, it’s OK to do so with a concise message in the body of the e-mail – as long as you know the recipient is expecting the attachment, or doesn’t mind receiving information in this manner.

The subject line is there for a reason. This is the best way to let your recipient know immediately what your message is about, and entice them to read it. So, why waste this critical opportunity by saying something like, “A Message from Jane Doe,” or, worse yet, leaving it blank? Be as specific as possible. “Save Thousands on Training Programs,” “May 1st Project Deadline” or “Critical Sales Meeting Next Tuesday” certainly would grab my attention.

Wireless woes. Now that people are using cell phones, BlackBerrys and other wireless devices with more frequency to send e-mails, it’s important to note how you’re sending a message. People on the receiving end of messages sent from these types of gizmos aren’t going to realize why they received a brief, five word e-mail with abbreviated spellings. So, your message may come across as angry, annoyed, or just plain rude. Tell the recipient right away how you’re sending the e-mail and avoid this misinterpretation of your message.

Remember these etiquette pointers before you click “send,” and you’ll increase your e-mail effectiveness.

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