How Rude!

Q: I recently e-mailed my staff [a few company] policy changes, but seemed to have ticked them off in the process. What did I do wrong?
–M.G. Smith Mendocino, California

A: Well, could it be because all your sentences LOOKED LIKE THIS? In Internet-speak, this is called shouting. You can be forgiven for doing it the first time, but if you persist, you’ll continue to have an angry staff.

In business (as well as personal) interactions, sending messages in capital letters is a definite no-no. Sure you want to get your point across, but there’s a better way to do it. Here are a few things to keep in mind when sending e-mail.

  • Get to the point. Be brief but not rude.
  • Keep it simple. Forgo the excessive use of special functions such as underline, boldface, or color type.
  • Watch your language. Don’t send anything in an e-mail that you would have trouble saying.
  • Watch the tone. In e-mail, it is often difficult for the recipient to determine whether your “friendly reminder” is, in fact, an insult.
  • Mind your manners. “Please” and “thank you” work just as well online as off.
  • Finally, keep reading BE In the coming months, we’ll show you how to make the best use of e-mail–without alienating your colleagues and clients.

For more tips, check out Easy Email by Joan Tunstall (Allen & Unwin, $6.95).

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