In today’s business world, several forms of communication exist. It is now possible to deliver email to thousands of people in seconds. Unfortunately, many of us have had the misfortune of sending an email only to have the recipient interpret message differently than intended. Over time, the term netiquette rose to mean proper internet etiquette. Below are some simple netiquette tips to help online messages be clear and reduce misunderstandings or embarrassing situations.
1. Tune your tone! Much like the tone of voice with the spoken word, the tone of an email is important. In addition to proof reading, read the email to yourself. Is the email reflecting the same tone that would be used if the conversation were happening in person? Be careful of the chosen words. Though the intent of the email may be an offer of help, depending on the words used, it could be misconstrued as an email condemning the recipient’s job performance or decision skills.
2. Humor might not be funny! A small remark that, in person, would be funny, might not come across as humorous in an email. It is always advised that if unsure of how something is worded, get someone else to read it as well. This gives fresh insight into how the email could be interpreted.
3. Emoticons at work? We have all seen them and probably used them. Emoticons are the little smiley faces or winking faces found online or in text messages. In the vast majority of the business world, these emoticons are not appropriate to use in professional correspondence. Always consider the recipient of the email and the content of the email. If the recipient is a close work associate that has been working on a project together, it may be acceptable. If the recipient is unknown or vaguely known, emoticons are not acceptable, ever. When in doubt, error on the side of caution and skip them.
4. Capitalization is ok! We know that using all capitals is considered shouting in online correspondence. This means that I HATE PAPERWORK is read differently than I hate paperwork. There are very few times in professional correspondence when using all capitals is acceptable. One example is in the subject line of an email. This is to call attention to the email so it stands out in the inbox and is quicker to find. If in doubt, do not use all capitals.
5. Email or face-to-face? As busy as life can be, some topics should be discussed in person, not over email. Consider the topic. Is it about a complex or sensitive matter? Topics like these should be discussed in person. With the implementation of HIPPA and similar legislation, confidential information is to be guarded. A simple email to a wrong party could open the company to severe penalties or other difficult situations. Additionally, companies may have policies in their company handbooks regarding such information and procedures to follow. Research that area to ensure procedures are followed. If it is something that a person wouldn’t want to have announced to the whole company, consider having that conversation in person.
While these are just a few tips, they are very important in the work place. A company that is communicating efficiently and effectively is a wondrous sight. Hopefully, these tips will assist in making communication efficient, effective, and beneficial.
About Clinton Kanieski
Clinton Kanieski is the IT Program Chair at Globe University-La Crosse. He teaches IT classes, helps with job placement for students, and represents Globe University at various community events. If you have a question, tip, trick or fact for Clinton or about the IT program at Globe University, please let him know! He’d be happy to hear from you: Ckanieski@globeuniversity.edu