EMAIL ETIQUETTE, Part 1 of 2, By Laura Stack MBA, CSP

laura-stack4These days there are plenty of ways to ruin a perfectly good career. Consider fouled up contracts, miscalculated business strategies, and, of course, your now famous imitation of Yosemite Sam doing the boss’s we’ve-got-to-cut-expenses -immediately speech. Thanks to the digital age and the Internet, we can add e-mail to the list of career killers. Like me, you probably remember when e-mail was simple…just type your message, hit the Send button and off it goes to your pal in the next cube. No more. E-mail messaging now exceeds telephone traffic, and is the dominant form of business communication. At a moment’s notice, e-mail can be printed, filed, stored, recalled and broadcast to thousands across the globe. Last but not least, e-mail can be subpoenaed. One digital boo-boo and you can kiss that corner office goodbye.

Using e-mail effectively is more about common sense than technology. Here are a few simple rules for using e-mail in the office.

Learn to Write

How many times have you seen something like this:
“It mandotorie that you all must all come to the meeting that being arnaged by executve managemant to discuss or upcoming and critical stragety for dealing with the most current addtins to the tax coda and how its going to effect ne vcntracts lunch will be provceied for those who got ther on tim.”

No one is going to take this seriously. E-mail is no different than a memorandum or business letter. All are written correspondence, and all create an impression. Writing like William Shakespeare isn’t necessary, but every e-mail user should firmly grasp the basics of third-grade grammar. Here are a few reminders. Words that begin sentences should be capitalized. Sentences should always end with some sort of punctuation. Commas are OK. Those who are seriously grammar-challenged can use a word processor with spell/grammar check, then cut and paste into the e-mail document. And remember: Proofreading is good.

Using E-mail as an Excuse Not to Communicate Is Bad

I’ll wager the majority of e-mail correspondence today is not really meant to convey information, but is some form of CYA. Think of the times you’ve heard someone in the office indignantly say, “Well, I sent you e-mail.” We’ve forgotten the value of face-to-face or even voice-to-voice communication. E-mail will never be able to convey the nuances of body language, inflection and facial expression. With exchanges of e-mail, it is impossible to explore meaning and discover the sender’s true intent. So, if you have a problem with someone, the first thing to do is find the person and have a conversation.

Visit the blog next week for more on email etiquette.

© 2009 Laura Stack. Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, author, and professional speaker who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier® with Maximum Results in Minimum Time®. She is the president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management training firm specializing in productivity improvement in high-stress organizations. Since 1992, Laura has presented keynotes and seminars on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in today’s workplaces. She is the bestselling author of three works published by Broadway Books: The Exhaustion Cure (2008), Find More Time (2006) and Leave the Office Earlier (2004). Laura is a spokesperson for Microsoft, 3M, and Day-Timers®, Inc and has been featured on the CBS Early Show, CNN, and the New York Times. Her clients include Cisco Systems, Sunoco, KPMG, Nationwide, and 3M. To have Laura speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401. Visit to sign up for her free monthly productivity newsletter.

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