U-C WEBS' founder Nardo KuitertBy Nardo Kuitert, U-C WEBS
[Published in The Wellington Advertiser, October 2013 for the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce]

Email manners are a necessity. There is huge risk of being misunderstood when you write your email, as there is no intonation or body language involved. That is, if they even receive your message. If you’re not careful your emails can be flagged as spam, filtered out, redirected or deleted from the mail server. The fact that it is written communication can also come back to haunt you. If it is an important email regarding a situation where much is at stake, don’t send it at all – yet. Wait a day or so, and see if what you were typing yesterday is still worth sending today. You better think twice before you hit that “Send” button, and ask yourself: is that email really appropriate?

A few email do’s and don’ts:

  1. Email is rather emotionless; the lack of facial expressions or tone of voice in this form of communication means that a lot of intended clues can be missed or misinterpreted. The use of typed emoticons such as the smiley 🙂 can help a little bit, but not everybody knows what they mean – so there is certainly a risk involved in using them. LOL! (this means: laughing out loud :o) DON’T USE ALL CAPITALS, AS IT IS PERCEIVED AS ONLINE SHOUTING, JUST AS EXCESSIVE BOLDING —– OR OVERUSED PUNCTUATION!!!!!!!!!
    If you try to emphasize everything, you will loose all emphasis.
  2. Come up with a relevant subject line. Or even better: make sure you use a subject line, period.
  3. Try to keep you emails short and sweet – but not too short. If you reply to an email without the original context (a question, a story) then the recipient may very well be completely clueless. Try to include the original email in your reply, especially if your reply is not within 24 hours.
  4. Are you replying to one person, or a whole group? Be careful – better double check the “To” field before hitting the “Submit” button. You would not be the first to say something personal, assuming that only one person is reading it, but because of accidentally clicking Reply To All, or replying to a whole email group such as Google Groups shared their private thoughts with a large group of readers.
  5. Protect other people’s privacy. If you are sending an email to several people at once, consider sending this email to yourself with the recipients on BCC (blind carbon copy). This way the recipients can not see the email addresses of all the other people, and people cannot “Reply All”.
  6. Be selective in the use of Reply To All. Do all original recipients of the email also need to be notified of your answer? Maybe a reply just to the original sender will suffice. People’s Inboxes are full enough as it is…
  7. Consider adding an email signature to your emails – with your name, company name and phone number, possibly also your website address and a tagline.
  8. Keep your file attachments as small as possible. Although it is 2013, not everybody, and especially not in rural regions, may have the same speedy connection as you have. Contact the addressee beforehand if you really have to send something large – they may not appreciate their computer being held hostage while downloading those high-resolution pictures you sent them.

For more information: contact your web developer, or website optimizer Nardo Kuitert at [email protected] or 519-787-7612. Nardo has written this column on behalf of the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce since 2006.

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