Electronic communication - Setting the Tone
How you present yourself and your organization can do wonders for working relationships. It can also damage them beyond repair. Clarity of message and a respectful tone will convince your reader that you understand that their time is valuable as well.
Angry? then wait
- Electronic communication is never private. Always stop to think before firing off an answer to someone - even if you think they might deserve it. And do you *really* need to cc that vice president with the answer as well? Sure, the other person might get in trouble. But you are likely to look like someone who isn't the most rational person in the world either.
- One of two things can happen if you're constantly using caps lock for your messages. To most people it LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE EITHER SHOUTING or as though you should remove the training wheels before tackling the Internet. Either way it looks unprofessional.
Using priorities when sending messages
- Use "high" priority sparingly. If every message you send is marked as a high priority, people will stop taking it seriously.
Reply receipts - don't use them
- Requesting verification this way implies a distrust in the reader that can be difficult to overcome. Essentially you've placed the reader on a timer.
- The receipt may also provide wrong information. Many e-mail programs ask the reader whether or not to acknowledge the receipt request; this author tends to click either "No" or "Later" rather than "Yes". If the reader uses a web-based program, the return receipt may not be sent at all.
Considered adding a personal touch?
- Use the reader's name (spelled correctly) rather than just launching into the meat of the message. Always remember that the reader is a person, not merely their job.
- Wishing someone or their endeavors well doesn't take much extra effort.
This document last reviewed April 26, 2013.