Heres an updated 21st-century version:
No one thinks they send annoying e-mails.
Plenty of us do.
Consider these findings from the Pew Internet and American Life Project report, culled from Princeton University research
conducted from 2000 to 2002:
o 23 percent of Americans who use e-mail at work say
e-mail has added a new source of stress to their lives.
o 22 percent of work e-mailers say e-mail has caused
o 16 percent of work e-mailers say e-mail encourages gossip.
E-mail has revolutionized communication. But its still very much an untamed frontier. Welcome to the E-mail Offender
Rehabilitation Program. Well get you straight before you hit "Send" and offend again.
Here are some common e-mail infractions identified by "netiquette" experts:
oDo you send out jokes and "you gotta see this!"Web sites to a wide range of people?
PROBLEM! Youve just distributed your friends e-mail
addresses to people they dont know, exposing them to spam and viruses.
o Do you send out cute e-mails to your entire office or
PROBLEM! Youve just required your co-workers to siftthrough more e-mails and made it difficult for them to know what interoffice communication is important.
o Do you load up your e-mails with elaborate personal signatures
that include favorite quotes or even graphics?
PROBLEM!Youve just burdened your readers with superfluous information that wastes their time.
Around 31 billion e-mails are sent globally each day,
according to "How Much Information 2003," the fact book sent out by the University of California at Berkeley. How many of those e-mails would have benefited from adhering to appropriate tone or structure?
THE PUBLIC E-MAIL
Occasionally we have to send out e-mails to all the parents of the soccer team, or to everyone in the homeowners association. If possible, you might try writing your public e-mails with a who, what, when, where structure. This can be extremely helpful to readers.
WHO: All members of soccer team.
WHAT: Team photo.
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 4, at noon.
WHERE: Playing field 2.
QUESTIONS? Call Coach Lombardi
ItÕs often a bad idea to include personal statements in a mass public e-mail.
Experts say there are three types of e-mails with distinctly different rules the close friends, office and public e-mails.
THE CLOSE FRIENDS E-MAIL
Your spouse, your closest friends, your siblings, your parents: These are the people to send jokes and Òyou gotta see this!Ó e-mails to.Hard as it may be to believe, not everyone shares your sense of humor.Even this small group of people will not enjoy everything you send them.
THE OFFICE E-MAIL
DonÕt add to peopleÕs workload. ThatÕs the main rule of e-mails sent out to a group of co-workers. Keep them short, sweet and to the point. Follow these tips:
o Make the subject line factual and brief.
o In clear, concise sentences, deliver the pertinent
information within the e-mail.
oIf you donÕt have an electronic signature on your e-mails, provide your name and phone number.
o Proofread the e-mail several times before sending it out.
Studies show that one attribute of email that most distinguishes it from other forms of communication is its ability to evoke heated emotion.
Misinterpretation can lead to rapid-fire exchanges known as "flaming." Here are some tips for avoiding a flame war:
o Think before you write. If youre
angry, DO NOT put an address on your e-mail. Simply compose an e-mail that is addressed to no one and save it that way. This can be therapeutic and prevent you from firing off something regrettable.
o If you receive an e-mail that
makes you mad, read it again. Make sure youre not overreacting.
o Separate opinion from fact while reading an e-mail so you can respond appropriately.
oWhen communication is tense or unclear, pick up the phone or better yet, go see the person.
o Be concise in your messages. Flaming tends to happen when you write to excess.
HANDLING THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
OK, so what happens when you do write something mean and send it off? Admit it, right away. If possible, apologize in person or at least on the phone. This will help to break the chain of aggressive e-mails, and will convey to the other person that you took the transgression seriously.
Source: Katherine Reynolds,
BEFORE YOU HIT SEND
Complete this mental checklist
when you send an e-mail:
o Is this e-mail a "flame"? Never send an e-mail in anger. It could stay around forever, and haunt your professional or personal life.
o Check the "To" field. Is this really who you want to send the message to?
o Have you spell-checked the message? Does it contain any error that could reflect badly on you?
o Is the message too informal for
the people youre e-mailing? Does it waste their time?
oAre you insulting or criticizing
someone who could see this message
later? Is the e-mail simply unfair or unkind to that person