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Lifezone Training Newsletter - Jun '10 Edition

NETIQUETTE - Minding your manners

There are no boundaries in Email.
Anyone can write to anyone as long you have their email. With this facility, the net is wide open for you to write anyway and anyhow to anyone.
Your Image is at stake when you write as you are not merely writing but portraying your style and personality as the same time. In the competitive corporate market we  need to take care to make right impression and impact.

Using e-mail in business relationships helps us open up communication, network and enhance creditability. However we need to follow certain rules to ensure this is achieved. The basic rule of netiquette is to have and show consideration for your recipient partner.

How would they feel when they read it or would they interpret the message the way you intend to! This will help you to determine the effectiveness of your message.
E-mail offers a plenitude of new opportunities for business, but understanding how to properly use it is essential in order to take advantage of these opportunities.

Common Netiquette Rules - Mind Your Manners:

Salutations -
Think of the basic rules you learned growing up, like saying please and thank you. Address people you don't know as Mr., Mrs., or Dr. Only address someone by first name if they imply it's okay to do so. Today’s forum indicates that people normally use first name and surname during introductions. Hence it is expected that you start addressing emails nowdays by using their names rather than Dear Sir etc.
      o Aim to address with full name as indicated when writing to them first time - like Dear Harish Mehta – ( without using Mr. ) unless the person is qualified like Dr.
      o After second or third instance aim to sign your email off with just first name – like Sanjay – eventually leading to other party to do the same – hence coming on first name terms.
      o Internally – you still need to put salutation – rather than just write as it seems rude – it is like talking to someone without greeting
      o Internal emails – you should just address with name only - Harish and then follow with your message.

Rushing to Reply -
While the pace of communication accelerates, it is tempting to impulsively type what comes to mind and send it off. But taking this casual approach to serious business matters could cause you to communicate ideas and attitudes that confuse (or worse, offend) your co-workers and clients.
We've all sent an e-mail or two that we wish we could take back as soon as it was sent. Whether you're angry with a co-worker or thrilled about a sales prospect, don't fire your e-mail off right away.
      o Take a few moments longer to carefully draft your messages to project your right image; meaning someone with a deliberate and accurate business sense.
      o Use your "queue" function, which lines up your messages but doesn't send them. This creates one last opportunity to be sure that what you've said is appropriate, before it's unleashed upon a colleague or customer.
      o Build-in a practice to review your Important Emails after few minutes after writing them –rather hit the send button
      o If you are writing while you are in an emotional state, save your message and review it later before sending it – This is a must.

Choose your words carefully and Watch Your Tone:
 Tone is defined as an expression of a mood or emotion." It is very difficult to express tone in writing. You want to come across as respectful, friendly, and approachable. You don't want to sound curt or demanding. Phrasing your thoughts are very important. Use care when sending a message with sarcasm in it. Let the person know that is how you intend the message to be read.

Use Clear 'References':

     o Laura did further research Joan’s audit findings and then altered them in her report to the full committee.   
     o (Whose report – Laura’s or Joan’s?)

Be Concise:
Get to the point of your email as quickly as possible, but don't leave out important details that will help your recipient answer your query. Some emails are so lengthy – the reader is least interested in reading and also often ends up confused due to vagueness.

Do not write very long emails (never longer than a page)

   If you need to then send as an attachment

Don't over-emphasize your point with extraneous punctuation such as exclamation points.

Use descriptive subject headers.
  The subject line should be direct and clearly identify the content of your message. Give a short and yet, meaningful subject title. This is very important- give it a thought. It should not be too big or even too short. Subject title should give an idea of what the email is all about.

Use "request a delivery receipt" or "request a read receipt" option only when you think it is very important for you. You need not use it every time. It does waste your time by cluttering your inbox with confirmation and can irritate the recipient

Do not point out spelling errors and grammatical mistakes to senders of emails to you - (only if internal) - today we live in a conversational world where it doesn't matter much about the grammar to the extent that it doesn't change the meaning or become offensive to the recipient.

Do not forward chain emails in business. Many corporate have rules or restrictions on this issue - as often it diverts you from work.

Do not give email ids of other persons to anyone without taking their permission.  Many times innocently we receive emails from known contacts relating festivity or greeting or some eventful news marked as 'cc' with scores of other email ids which we don't even know. Incidentally now they do know you - because of your email id and start putting you in the loop to keep you updates with any news or events etc. Therefore avoid forwarding or exposing anyone's ids without their permission.

Summarize responses
. When responding to your recipient’s message, you dont have to re-write - just highlight the lines and directly quote 'see higlighted' from the original message rather than including the entire thing.

Read responses thoroughly
. Consider it active reading just like Active Listening.

Include your signature at the end of your messages. Signatures typically include your name, position, corporate affiliation, and e-mail address. They can also include your telephone number and address, but most signatures only contain four (4) lines.

Watch carbon copies (CCs)
when replying. Don’t continue to include multiple people if the messages have become a 2-way conversation. Frequently executives or managers want to ensure their seniors are kept informed - however every small issues reported too regularly can be overloading your senior and become irritating. Usually the mind-set is to keep Seniors informed so they cannot be blamed or feel responsibility lies upward when cc. is done. Ensure you judge on merit of email in business it may be a mere instruction to you and report to only the sender rather than cc to all.

Be Professional: This means, stay away from abbreviations and don't use emoticons (those little smiley faces). Don't use a cute or suggestive email address for business communications. Today sms language is creeping into emails - with certain companies accepting it as norm. However it will slowly expand to destroy the professionalism. In business we still need to preserve that Brand Image -so be aware of the 'lingo' you use as may be at times forwarded internally upwards or externally to client.

Be cautious when using slang or idioms, especially if your mentoring partner is from a different culture and speaks a different native language.

Use both upper and lower case letters. Using all upper case letters looks like you’re SHOUTING. Using lower case only means you are lazy and carefree.

Manage your Mailbox –Have Appropriate Folders for regular mails or even create sub-folders or certain on-going queries which is easy to review
Filing them into different mailboxes will help, and 'trashing' those which are no longer useful can conserve space in your files. Do this carefully - you don't want to bin that message about your assignment deadline!


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