email etiquette: keeping your foot out of your virtual mouth

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  • Slide 1
  • Email Etiquette: Keeping Your Foot Out of Your Virtual Mouth
  • Slide 2
  • Email etiquette is evolving too E-mail has quickly become a communication standard and the Internets most popular application. Both the number of e-mail users and the usage rates are continuing to grow exponentially. Mischelle Davis, V.P. of marketing communications at NewWorldIQ
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  • Where are we now? Right now online writing is pretty much in its Wild West stage, a free- for-all with everybody shooting from the hip and no sheriff in sight. OConner & Kellerman (2002)
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  • What makes email different?
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  • Difference: Tone No nonverbal cues Tone becomes crucial
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  • Difference: Tone No nonverbal cues Tone becomes crucial In Germany and Britain, 23 percent and 14 percent respectively [of respondents to a Daily Mail survey] admitted confrontations with colleagues because of e-mail misunderstandings.
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  • Criticisms are harsher Messages meant to express mild displeasure can come across as tirades. Louise Dobson, Avoiding Email Catastrophes (2006)
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  • Tone: Example One To: Female employees From: H. Honcho Re: Dress code Date: 1 July 2006 Clients will be visiting next week. Halter tops and jeans will not make the right impression. Its time you started dressing for the office instead of the beach. Leave your flip-flops at home!
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  • Tone: Example Two To: All staff From: H. Honcho Re: Reminder about what to wear to work Date: 1 July 2006 During the summer, our dress code is business casual. We think business casual means clothes that feel comfortable and look professional. MenWomen khaki pants casual pants and skirts leather shoes leather or fabric shoes
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  • Tips: Tone Avoid terseness, which can be misinterpreted Use face-to-face communication if issue is sensitive Read your emails aloud, looking for ambiguity
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  • Humor: Riskier Nearly a quarter of employees have suffered problems with colleagues or clients because their use of humour in an email has not been understood or appreciated, according to a survey. Robert Jacques, Email Jokes Backfire for UK Workers (2004)
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  • Humor: Often misinterpreted Participants [in recent studies] were able to accurately communicate humor and sarcasm in barely half -- 56 percent -- of the emails they sent. Louise Dobson (2006)
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  • Tips: Humor If in doubt, dont send it. Chevron was forced to pay $2.2 million to settle a harassment case based in part on emails with such subjects as Why beer is better than women. Reread for ambiguities. Signal the joke. One emoticon or per email is plenty.
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  • Difference: Levels of formality Most people view email as more formal than a phone call less formal than a letter
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  • Tip: Spelling still counts This is an actual email. Purposal I can beat almost anyones price and almost promise you success and if I dont reach it, we wont charge you after the time we say we can achieve it until we do.
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  • Tip: Spelling still counts Sloppiness is one of seven deadly e-mail sins Bad grammar, misspelling and disconnected arguments gave 81 percent of the survey sample "negative feelings" towards the senders. 41 percent of senior managers said badly worded e-mails implied laziness and even disrespect.
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  • Tip: Level of Formality When in doubt, err on the side of formality.
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  • Tip: Level of Formality Be conversational. An overly formal e-mail message alienates the reader. Dont adopt a cold, remote, or superior tone in an attempt to sound professional. Angell and Heslop (2002)
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  • Difference: Level of Formality Questions to which answers are evolving: Do I need a subject line? Should I email a thank-you note after a job interview? Should I communicate bad news via email?
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  • Difference: Electronic Hit Send and its gone Hit Reply All and your career may be gone Deleted emails live on Messages can be forwarded without your knowledge or consent
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  • Tip: Email is never private Pillsbury assured employees that emails were private. Michael Smyth was fired after sending an email calling his bosses backstabbing bastards. A court held that he had no reasonable expectation of privacy.
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  • Tip: Electronic Instant Many expect a phone call to alert them to an email labeled Urgent. Allow a reasonable time (two days week) for a response. Respond before senders have to follow up or business is delayed.
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  • Three manners mavens: Shea Typing in all capitals in electronic communications means (B) You are shouting. Typing in all capitals in online communications is the equivalent of SHOUTING! Only type in all caps if you really mean to shout.
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  • Anatomy of email: From E-mail recipients put more weight on who the e-mail is from than any other item when choosing which e-mails to open which to delete which to complain about Chris Baggot, ExactTarget
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  • Anatomy of an email: Subject Your subject can answer any of readers four key questions: 1. Whats this about? 2. Why should I read this? 3. Whats in this for me? 4. What am I being asked to do?
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  • Anatomy of email: Subject To: Girrrl friends From: Ima Ditz Re: Change of plans
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  • Anatomy of email: Subject To: Sara Bellum From: Gray Matter Re: Marketing meeting rescheduled for 12/15/06
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  • Tips: Subject Lead with the main idea Browsers may not display more than first 25-35 characters Create single-subject messages Keep track of threads Subject: New Years Party Plans (was: New Year-End Bonus Structure)
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  • More Tips: Subject Double-check the address line before sending. Insulted by a general email from the boss, an employee sent an angry comment to a colleague (she thought): Does she think were stupid? The reply (from her boss): Yes, I do.
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  • Anatomy of an email: Body Before you type anything into a new message, have explicit answers for two questions: 1. Why am I writing this? 2. What exactly do I want the result of this message to be? 43 Folders (2005)
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  • Anatomy of an email: Body Before you hit Send, review and delete Negative comments about management Criticisms of staff or performance issues Bonuses or salary issues Product or liability issues Gossip Humor or other ambiguities Booher
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  • Anatomy of email: Body Write so emails are easy to read Make paragraphs 7-8 lines Insert a blank line between paragraphs Use headlines, bullets, and numbers AVOID ALL CAPS; THATS SHOUTING If a message is longer than 3 screens, send an attachment
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  • Tip: Avoid brusqueness Brief is good. Blunt is not. Question: Should I pursue an advanced degree? Response 1: No. Response 2: I dont think an advanced degree would have any effect on your potential for promotion here. Diana Booher
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  • Question: Do I need a greeting? Consensus: Yes. Otherwise, you can seem brusque or unfriendly.
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  • Question: Which greeting? Opinion: Divided Some say Hi, Steve, is too informal. Some say To whom it may concern is stilted. For external communication, use same greeting as in letter For internal communication, some use Myra:
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  • Question: Which closing? Consensus Match greeting in tone Formal: Sincerely, Best regards, Cordially Informal: Thanks; All the best, Talk to you later Use a sig line that gives your name, title, and contact information Omit a P.S. (if the email is longer than a screen, a postscript could be missed)
  • Slide 37
  • Question: Email thank-you? 36 percent of employers on Monster prefer thank-you notes sent by email 29 percent prefer traditional letters

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