Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Class Email - Can You Spare A Dollar

One of the great outcomes of the computer age is email. It has done more to revolutionize communications than anything else since the invention of the telephone. This is especially true in the world of business.

It has resulted in instantly documented communications which has helped clarify and promote business activities. Email provides a quick response to business opportunities, helps reduce confusion and reduces mistakes in the execution of business plans.

With all its merits email still has problems and the biggest is people. The lack of etiquette in the use of email in the business arena is unbelievable. Here are just a few of my pet peeves about email misuse.

Email was originally designed as a means to convey short messages quickly and efficiently. This still is its primary purpose. The problem arises when people try to write an epistle when they send an email.

An email should be brief and covering just the facts, you should not have to search for the point of the message in a long flowing commentary. Use the subject line to clearly state the subject of the message. If you feel you need to give more information, do it in a document and add it as an attachment to the email while keeping the email as a summary note.

Even though it is a short message you still need to adhere to all writing protocols and be grammatically correct. Do not use email shorthand such as acronyms and company slang when writing emails. You should not assume your reader knows what the shorthand means. The purpose of the email is to accurately and clearly communicate information. This is especially true when sending emails outside of your company. Remember your email reflects not only on you but also your company.

One other comment on writing an email, check your spelling. Spelling errors and errors in grammar can be extremely frustrating to the reader. They also make you look bad and less intelligent to the reader. Plus, you don’t know who the email may be forwarded to.

One of my other big “peeves” with email involves the “Copy” button and the “Reply All” button. When you write and send messages think carefully about who you copy on the message. Ask yourself, “Do they really need to know this information?” The reason for this is simple courtesy and the fact that people get so many emails every day. Send your message to people who really need the information and not to everyone in the office.

The same guidelines should be used when replying to emails. You do not have to reply to every person who was on the original copy. As an example, the other day I received an email from my manager notifying me he was going to be on vacation next week. He copied all the appropriate people in the company. Within fifteen minutes I had twenty-five additional emails in my in-box wishing him a good trip. I really don’t need to know you are “kissing up to the boss”. Use the “reply” button, not the “reply all”.

If you are worried about whom to copy or reply to then use this simple guideline to help you decide; would I pay for a First Class Stamp to send this note to them? If they are not worth a First Class Stamp the odds are they do not need a copy.

These are just a couple of my pet peeves on emails and there are many more. They all come down to the use of basic common sense and business etiquette. Emails may be short, quick memos but the information they carry is important to your success and the success of the company. Take time and think about what you are emailing.

1 comment:

  1. Great tips here, Larry. I never thought to ask the stamp question--makes sense!