You Guilty? The 7 Sins of E-Mail
E-mail can not only hurt relationships, but also slow
down business, according to a new survey from Great
Britain that points the blame for it all squarely on a
lack of e-mail etiquette, says communications expert Dr.
Fully 61 percent of workers say a lack of e-mail
responses are delaying business decisions. E-mail is no
different than face-to-face interactions. People DO form
an impression of who you are and how competent you are
based on how you write and use e-mail. CNN reports that
the survey of 750 office workers across Europe, which
was commissioned by palmOne, identified the seven deadly
sins of e-mail.
Are you guilty of any of these? Is it time to repent?
The seven deadly sins of e-mail and what to do if you're
Fully 79 percent of those polled said they resented
having to chase e-mail responses when their important
messages are ignored. In addition, 25 percent said they
had to do this for more than half the e-mails they send.
This impacts business. Nearly two-thirds of the
respondents said business decisions were delayed due to
a lack of e-mail response. What can you do? Always
acknowledge receipt of an e-mail. Use the "out of
office" function religiously when away.
"Oh, I never received that!" No one lies about e-mails
like the Brits. About 11 percent of Britons actually
confessed they lie about receiving an e-mail, which is
twice as high as other countries. As CNN notes, denying
that you ever received an e-mail just breeds distrust.
Remember, it's easy enough for the sender to confirm
whether the message was delivered. What can you do? You
ignored an e-mail. Acknowledge that. Don't embarrass
yourself by denying you ever received it!
Never presume that sending an urgent e-mail without a follow-up phone call
is enough. Twenty-seven percent of survey respondents
said they were annoyed when urgent e-mails were sent
without an accompanying phone call to draw attention to
What can you do? When you send an important e-mail, pick
up the phone.
Be succinct. Sending verbose e-mails when a few
well-written sentences will do is irritating,
particularly to senior management. What can you do? Get
to the point. Say less and your e-mail will be read
Send an e-mail to many people and your colleagues will
think you're spamming them. Only copy the most relevant
people. What can you do? If you must copy others on your
messages, include only those people who have an active
interest in the subject. The benefit to you? You'll get
a more immediate response.
Neatness counts! Fully 81 percent of the survey
respondents said bad grammar, misspelling, and
disconnected arguments gave them a "negative feeling"
about the sender, while 41 percent of senior managers
said badly worded e-mails implied laziness and even
disrespect. What can you do? Remember your seventh grade
grammar lessons. Use proper spelling and a verb in every
sentence. Treat every e-mail like a formal letter. Proof
it before you click the "send" button.
Since no one can see that sly smile on your face or that
sarcastic tone in your voice, be careful! It's easy to
get the tone wrong in an e-mail and then your casual
comments or humor are misunderstood. Short, sharp
e-mails can unintentionally damage relationships. What
can you do? Never reply to an e-mail if you're feeling
angry or emotional. Avoid snap judgments.