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E Mail Ethics and Etiquettes


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Some ethics and etiquettes to be followed while writing an e-mail

Published in: Technology

E Mail Ethics and Etiquettes

  1. 1. Raghunath G Soman
  2. 2. Why Email Ethics Are Necessary? <ul><li>The kind of e-mail you write gives clues about your own personality. </li></ul><ul><li>The biggest status cue is your competence with the language. If you have lots of misspellings, your subjects do not agree with your verbs, or you use the wrong words, people may assume that you are uneducated. </li></ul><ul><li>From that, they may infer that you are not very clever!! </li></ul>
  3. 3. Mail IDs <ul><li>Mail ID gives many subtle cues. Having a short ID, without numbers, indicates that you are one of the first in your domain to get an email account. </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, [email_address] is probably a more senior person than rahul _9 [email_address] . </li></ul><ul><li>People also make assumptions about your maturity and formality level. They will take [email_address] more seriously than [email_address] . </li></ul>
  4. 4. Before you compose <ul><li>The first step in writing e-mail message is to identify the purpose of the message and determining what the recipient reading the message has to do. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus your objective. A chieve the five I's: inform, inquire, influence, instruct and incite. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus your content. Don't let unnecessary ideas intrude on your principal message. </li></ul>
  5. 5. The To: line <ul><li>The To line and the Subject line are integrated. Each individual on the To line is responsible for taking the action (or part of an action) outlined on the Subject line and the message relates directly to them. </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Cc: line <ul><li>No action or response is expected of individuals on the Cc line. The recipient needs only to read or file the message. </li></ul><ul><li>The individuals whose work is indirectly affected by the communication should be included on the Cc line. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Bcc: line <ul><li>Use Bcc field sparingly. </li></ul><ul><li>In general, it's best not to use the Bcc line to slyly escalate matters. There is always a chance that the individual on the Bcc line could hit &quot;Reply All&quot; and unintentionally reveal that the matter was escalated.  </li></ul>
  8. 8. Subject: line <ul><li>Subject line should effectively summarize the message. If the subject-line is clearly written, each recipient on the To line will have a clear understanding of the objective that the message relates to. </li></ul><ul><li>Do your readers a favour: eliminate the word &quot;information&quot; from subject lines (and from the body of your message as well). </li></ul><ul><li>Consider: Subject: information </li></ul><ul><li>Please send me information about IIPL. </li></ul><ul><li>Any idea as to what the person wants to know about? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Salutations <ul><li>Do not use &quot;Sir&quot; or &quot;Mr.&quot; unless absolutely certain that your correspondent is male. </li></ul><ul><li>It is safer to use &quot;Ms.&quot; instead of &quot;Miss&quot; or &quot;Mrs.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Beware of using a diminutive ( Chris, or Bob) if you aren't certain your correspondent uses it. It might rankle Judith to be called Judy; Robert might hate being called Bob. </li></ul><ul><li>If you are addressing a group of people, you can say &quot;Dear&quot; plus the unifying attribute. For example: </li></ul><ul><li>Dear Project Managers: Or: </li></ul><ul><li>Dear Team Members: </li></ul>
  10. 10. Salutations <ul><li>Be careful about cultural differences. In United States, you can usually get away with a first name, but Germans are quite formal; they can work side-by-side for years and never get around to a first-name basis. Starting a message to Germany with “Dear Hans” might be a bad idea. </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Good Morning&quot; and &quot;Good Afternoon&quot; don't make sense with email, as the sun may have moved significantly by the time your correspondent gets around to it. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Identification <ul><li>When you send email to someone who doesn't know you, immediately answer these questions: </li></ul><ul><li>Who are you? </li></ul><ul><li>How did you learn of your correspondent? </li></ul><ul><li>What do you want from your correspondent? </li></ul><ul><li>Why should your correspondent pay attention to you? </li></ul><ul><li>If you can't answer the last question, consider whether you should even send the email. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Identification <ul><li>Here is a ideal message which answers all the questions mentioned earlier: </li></ul><ul><li>Dear Ms. Kulkarni: </li></ul><ul><li> I am an editor at Penguin Publishing Company, Inc. I sat next to your brother at Inox last week, and he mentioned that you are interested in publishing a book based Indian recipes. I would be very interested in receiving a proposal from you. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Composing the content… <ul><li>Remove Pronouns: Imagine getting a response on Monday to some email that you can't quite remember sending on Friday. </li></ul><ul><li>I talked to them about it the other day, and they want to see the other one before they make up their minds . </li></ul><ul><li>Your response would probably be the highly articulate, &quot;Huh???&quot; </li></ul>
  14. 14. Composing the Content <ul><li>The most important step in e-mail message is to identify the type of action that the recipient has to take after reading your message. </li></ul><ul><li>If multiple individuals are responsible for different actions, clearly indicate who is responsible for what. </li></ul><ul><li>Always include due dates for each action. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Composing the Content <ul><li>The four most common types of actions are: </li></ul><ul><li>Action   recipient has to perform a physical action. Ex: &quot;Provide a proposal for a 5% reduction in Travel & Entertainment.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Respond   recipient needs only to respond to your message. Ex: “Can you attend the staff meeting on Friday?&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Read Only   recipient needs only to read your message. Ex: “Please read the attached sales plan before next staff meeting on Dec 12th.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>FYI Only   recipient needs only to file your message for future reference. Even reading the message is optional. Ex: &quot;Enclosed for your records are your completed. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Composing the Content <ul><li>Do not write in CAPITALS. </li></ul><ul><li>WRITING IN CAPITALS MAKES IT SEEM AS IF YOU ARE SHOUTING. This can be highly annoying and might trigger an unwanted response in the form of a flame mail. Never send any email with all text in capitals. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not overuse Reply to All. </li></ul><ul><li>Only use Reply to All if you really need your message to be seen by each person who received the original message. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Composing the Content <ul><li>In business emails, do not use abbreviations such as BTW (by the way) and LOL (laugh out loud). The same goes for emoticons, such as :-). </li></ul><ul><li>Keep language gender neutral. Apart from using he/she, you can also use the neutral gender: ''The user should add a signature by configuring the email program”. </li></ul><ul><li>It is important to add disclaimers to your internal and external mails. This can help protect your company from liability. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Composing the Content <ul><li>Answer all questions, and pre-empt further questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Create templates for frequently used responses and save them as drafts. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid long sentences, and long mails. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide all supporting information that will help the recipient complete an action or respond successfully. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Signatures <ul><li>Whenever a piece of contact information changes, make sure your signature updated accordingly. </li></ul><ul><li>Using artwork, philosophical sayings, jokes, and/or quotations in signature is ok, but don't overdo it. A good heuristic is to keep your signature at or under five lines long. </li></ul><ul><li>Change your signature every once in a while. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Attachments <ul><li>Compress large attachments and send attachments only when they are absolutely necessary. </li></ul><ul><li>Have a good virus scanner in place. People will not be very happy with mails full of viruses. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Before Sending… <ul><li>Use proper spelling, grammar & punctuation. </li></ul><ul><li>Improper spelling, grammar and punctuation give a bad impression, and can sometimes even change the meaning of the text. </li></ul><ul><li>Read the email through the eyes of the recipient before you send it. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Replies <ul><li>Answer swiftly. </li></ul><ul><li>Each e-mail should be replied to within at least 24 hours, and preferably within the same working day. </li></ul><ul><li>If the email is complicated, send an email saying that you have received it and that you will get back to them. This will put the people’s mind at rest and usually they will then be very patient! </li></ul>
  23. 23. Replies <ul><li>Respond only to messages that require one. When replying make sure that you are adding value to the conversation, truly moving it forward. </li></ul><ul><li>   </li></ul><ul><li>While replying to an e-mail message with an attachment, which is to accompany your reply, you must forward the message instead of using the &quot;Reply&quot; or &quot;Reply All&quot; button. Otherwise, the attachment is not included with the message. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Replies <ul><li>Don't leave out the message thread. </li></ul><ul><li>Include the original mail in your reply. In other words, click 'Reply', instead of 'New Mail'. </li></ul><ul><li>Instead of sending email that says: </li></ul><ul><li>yes </li></ul><ul><li>Say: </li></ul><ul><li>> Did you get all the design documents > that you needed? </li></ul><ul><li>yes </li></ul>
  25. 25. E-Mail Ethics <ul><li>Overuse of the high priority option will make it lose its function when you really need it. </li></ul><ul><li>Don't send or forward emails containing libelous, defamatory, offensive, racist or obscene remarks, even if they are meant to be a joke. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not use email to discuss confidential information. </li></ul><ul><li>In short, If you don't want your email to be displayed on a bulletin board, don't send it. </li></ul>
  26. 26. E-Mail Ethics <ul><li>Don't forward virus hoaxes and chain letters. By forwarding chain-mails, you use valuable bandwidth. May a times, virus hoaxes contain viruses themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>Don't reply to spam. </li></ul><ul><li>Replying to spam or unsubscribing confirms that your email address is 'live'. It will only generate even more spam. Just hit the delete button or use email software to remove spam automatically. </li></ul>
  27. 27. E-Mail Ethics <ul><li>Watch out for &quot;flame mail.&quot;    Read (and reread) your mail to remove emotion before you hit &quot;Send.&quot; Your impatience or irritation can affect the tone of the message. </li></ul><ul><li>Work out disagreements one-on-one, either in person or by phone.    Evaluate if e-mail is the right medium for handing matter. Would a phone call or face-to-face meeting be more appropriate? Handling situations that are emotionally charged via e-mail often escalates the conflict. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Think twice, send once <ul><li>E-mail being an important communication tool, it is likely that the volume of messages you send and receive will only increase in the future. </li></ul><ul><li>Pausing for thought before responding will help ensure a professional, focused, and successful communication and in addition, reduce the amount of e-mail you send and receive. </li></ul><ul><li>That's worth taking a little extra time for, don't you think? </li></ul>
  29. 29. Be Concise, Be Precise <ul><li>To paraphrase a quote by Professor William Strunk Jr., the renowned authority on English usage: </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;An e-mail should contain no unnecessary words, and no unnecessary attachments , for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.&quot; </li></ul>