In celebration of Y2K not crashing our computers, our first Mannersmith Monthly concerned guidelines for using the “latest” in technology, electronic mail. While our communication options have blossomed since then, email remains steadfast as a necessary communication tool both within and outside of organizations. Quick text message? Follow it up with an email containing logistical information. Long in-person conversation? Summarize it in an email. Sales meeting via video-chat? Order confirmation via email. No matter which mode of communication we choose, email becomes the supplemental record. So, while our communication choices have increased, the amount of email we receive remains ever present. While writing just now, I received a slew of emails. And yes, even with filters, many were spam.
Have you been spammed? If you have an email account, the answer is likely “yes.” Spamming is defined as receiving junk email from an unsolicited source. Messages you don't want, from people you don't know, clogging your mailbox and dragging down your productivity. Spam is just one example of the many on-line pitfalls we encounter as more of our communication with others occurs over the internet. Email is a wonderful tool, but like any other tool, it is most effective when used properly. Consider these suggestions so that your recipients don’t view YOUR email as spam:
Be Brief ~ Email is primarily intended for short informational messages. Some email clients allow the recipient to read just the first couple of lines without ever opening the email. Make those first lines count!
Be Specific ~ The subject line is your friend. Write brief, descriptive titles. Also, prioritize your email appropriately. If you send everything high priority that little red exclamation point will lose its meaning.
Be Selective ~ Think about who needs to read the information you are sending. "Reply All" and "cc" are neat features, but not every email needs a reply.
Be Pleasant ~ Watch what you say and how you say it. A heated message will likely be regretted later. Typing in all capital letters is considered YELLING. Use of the "*" key or boldface usually emphasizes something.
Be Yourself ~ Never assume the recipient will know who you are. You may need to identify your title, company, and phone number. Setting a descriptive signature in your email client is recommended.
Be Careful ~ When at work, email is considered the property of the employer and may be monitored. Think twice about the information you are sending and to whom it is going.
Be Professional ~ Don't hide behind your computer. Don't use email as a shield to avoid having a conversation or a face-to-face interaction.
Be Practical ~ While sending email is one of the fastest ways to communicate, it is not designed for an immediate response. Not everyone lives in front of their monitor. Consider different time zones when sending an email that requires a response.
Be compliant ~ Use discretion and do not create a spam situation. When in the office, email is a workplace tool. The vast majority of messages in your mailbox should be work related. Many companies reserve the right to monitor your workplace email.
Be Polite ~ As more and more of our daily work occurs over the internet, more of us will experience professional relationships that exist only over the web. Strive to make every interaction a pleasant one.