Guest Author - Dianne Walker
E-mails are a powerful means of communication in the workplace. If you were to take a poll, most employees probably send or receive 100ís of e-mails per day. E-mails are arguably the most powerful communication tool which can cause major career damage if used incorrectly. There are some simple rules to maintain professional, termination free e-mail communication within the workplace.
A recent story discussed the major e-mail faux pas of a Twitter Human Resources manager. The manager unwittingly forgot to use "blind copy" to send a rejection letter to a list of recipients. Not only was the act extremely impersonal, but it also showed the personal e-mail addresses of all the other recipients. Itís important to take care and use extreme caution when using e-mail. Using "blind copy" can be both a valuable and a dangerous tool.
There is a big difference between personal and professional e-mail communication. Emoticons are cute when you are e-mailing your friends. When sending out professional e-mails, however, refrain from using the smiley faces. Also, donít spam your fellow workers with chain e-mails, jokes or other nonsense, unless you have their expressed permission. Time is a valuable commodity; donít waste your co-workers time trying to wade through useless e-mails.
When responding to e-mails, use the same response time that you would use for your voicemails. If you typically respond to voicemails within the same business day, respond to your e-mails in the same manner. Whether itís voicemail, snail mail or e-mail, your customers both external and internal have contacted you for a reason. Be courteous and respond to their communication promptly.
There are many circumstances in which sending an e-mail is definitely not appropriate. Never send an e-mail in a fit of anger. This is particularly damaging if you feel that youíre responding in-kind to someone elseís e-mail. Interpreting e-mails can be tricky and an innocent communication can sometimes be misconstrued as rude. If you respond in-kind to what you feel to be an insulting e-mail, you can do more damage. Try to delay responding to troubling e-mails until youíve had a chance to assess the situation.
Never use e-mail as a work tabloid. If you work in the government sector, you are most likely familiar with the Freedom of Information Act. This means if you put it in writing, it is fair game to the public. Recently a co-worker was released due to incriminating e-mails uncovered as a result of an internal investigation. Even if you donít work for the government, it is all too easy for a wayward e-mail to fall into the wrong hands. This can occur as easily as co-workers with the same last name, or not paying attention to the auto-fill that automatically completed an e-mail address.
If you want to get your e-mail read, be wary of spam and viruses. Many company employees are under specific instructions not to open attachments that may not be safe. Let your recipients know that you are the one that sent the e-mail. Every effective e-mail should include a subject line, your name and a contact number in the event that the reader wants to contact you directly for more information.
E-mails have successfully changed the way the world communicates. With the power of instant communication, great care must be taken to use it in an appropriate manner. One slip could be the catalyst for a sudden, non-voluntary departure from the work place. If you are not sure of the appropriateness of an e-mail, then itís probably best not to send it. If in doubt use a phone or snail mail instead. By following a few simple rules of e-mail etiquette, professional e-mail communication is within your grasp.