Monday, July 23, 2012

The New Electronic Etiquette

The ease of e-mail can lure users into a dangerous carelessness.  Remember, clarity is more important than ever—the reader can’t see the expression on the sender’s face or hear the tone of voice.  Unless you’re brainstorming with your team, weigh your words and measure your meaning before you zap; e-mail sent in haste may be repented at leisure.  Keep in mind:  Once it’s zapped, it’s gone—no asking a secretary to throw out the letter before it’s opened, no second-thought hangups before the phone is answered (though AOL has an “unsend” function that can save you if you’re quick enough).

The electronic age doesn’t really need its own Emily Post.  These rules should cover the finer points of cyberspace communication:

Answer your e-mail by the end of the day, if only to acknowledge receipt.

Watch what you write.  E-mail is not totally private.  Not only might another person in the same office happen to be using the same computer and thus see the message, but it can also be saved, printed and forwarded by the recipient, just like a letter.

When you reply to e-mail, remind the recipient of the original message by quoting key sentences.

Don’t go wild with “emoticons,” such as using: -) as a happy face [viewed sideways] to indicate pleasure.  An occasional <g> (for grin) to indicate irony or a joke is fine and can add clarity.

NEVER USE ALL CAPS (except for acronyms).  It qualifies as electronic shouting.

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