E-Mail Etiquette Tips
"Virtual Interference" is a term used to describe the misunderstandings that can arise when coworkers communicate via electronic means. As we know, the usual body language and vocal cues that aid face-to-face communication are absent in an e-mail or IM exchange. The etiquette tips are from the Yale University Library's Training & Staff Development web page (www.library.yale.edu/training/netiquette), and are meant to help coworkers ward off e-communications problems.
1. An e-mail or
IM should be accurate, clear, concise, and courteous. Consider your audience,
and before hitting the send button, proof the
text for anything that could be misinterpreted by, or antagonistic to, the recipient(s).
2. Don't use caps. This is more often than not interpreted as SHOUTING.
3. When in doubt about whether you can convey a matter accurately via electronic means, don't. Arrange to speak to the colleague.
4. Avoid expressions
of extreme emotion in your e-communications. Also known as "flaming,"
nasty e-communications between colleagues can only
result in alienation and loss of productivity.
5. If you receive
an e-mail or IM that upsets or confuses you, do not respond immediately. Remember
that your interpretation of the tone or
meaning of the e-mail may not coincide with the sender's intentions. Read it again. Reassess. Avoid the temptation of sending a too-hasty
(and not necessarily thoughtful) response.
6. A personal conversation
can do wonders for alleviating the tension and misunderstandings that may build
up in an e-mail or IM exchange.
Contact the sender of an e-mail that upsets or confuses you by phone, or approach them for a face-to-face discussion. Avoid starting a cycle
of "send" and "reply" in which you are both aggravated.
7. Don't ignore or forget to respond to an e-communication. This undermines work relationships and productivity.