Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

October 2011
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MANNERS AND ETIQUETTE

Cyber Decency
Anonymity in the cyberian world demands that elementary courtesies are not done away with.
When two persons converse with each other, it is not merely exchange of words. A lot of communication happens with the help of body language, voice modulation and use of eyes. Facial expressions such twitching of nose, squinting of eyes or wringing of hands too convey a lot of meaning.  All this may not be possible when people chat or communicate through the email.  It is therefore becoming essential that some norms are maintained when medium of conversation is email. Messages could be taken as too critical, too causal or too harsh, if norms are not observed. Whitmore, author of Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work has compiled a manual of email etiquette.  
Whitmore advises workers (or anyone using email, for that matter) to never send email when angry, and to take time out to cool down and re-read a message before sending it, to ensure that nothing has been written that may be regretted later.
Along with sending "mood mail," as Whitmore refers to anger-filled email, here are nine other email mistakes that can easily be avoided, compiled from the author's list of "15 Essential Email Etiquette Tips," published at her website:
    1. ALL-CAPPED email. Using all uppercase letters is considered CYBER SHOUTING (and you could be fired for it). As an alternative, use asterisks to emphasize key words. "Bob and I had a *wonderful* time at the company reception last night."
    2. Personal email. If you wish to send someone confidential or time-sensitive information, use the phone or meet in person. Emails can be duplicated, forwarded and printed, so don't send or say anything you wouldn't want to be repeated or posted in your company newsletter.
    3. Sloppy email. It pays to check before you click. Before you hit the "send" button, check for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. Take an extra minute or two to proofread, or read your email aloud to be sure that it says what you want it to say.
    4. Joke email. A funny email may seem innocent but it may be insulting to someone else. Email messages that are hostile, harassing or carry discriminatory overtones are permanent and may be forwarded to others without your knowledge.
    5. Loooong email. Keep it short. If possible, put your full message in the subject line. For example, "Can we meet this afternoon to go over budgets?" then finish the sentence with (EOM), the acronym for "end of message." The recipient won't need to open the message to respond. Use acronyms only when your recipients know their meaning.
    6. Buddy-buddy email. It's better to be more formal than too casual when you want to make a good impression. Use a person's surname until they respond by signing their email with their first name. This generally indicates that they don't mind being addressed more casually.
    7. Congratulatory email. A congratulatory email doesn't have the same impact as a personal thank you note, no matter how many people you copy on the message. Besides, most people cherish typed or handwritten notes rather an email message.
    8. Over-shared email. There will be times when you need to deliver an email to a large group but don't want to launch a massive distribution list by emailing everyone together. If the recipients are unacquainted and you don't want to divulge all addresses to all of the recipients, use the "bcc" or blind carbon copy function. When ‘bcc’ is used, the only other email address that appears in the recipient's mailbox is the sender's.
    9. Oops email. If you receive an email that was sent to a multitude of people, including yourself, reply only to those who require a response. Hit "reply all" only if it is crucial that every person on the distribution list see your response. In many instances, the sender is the only person who requires a response.
    10. Moody email. Never send an email when angry. Take time to cool down and re-read email before sending to be sure messages don't contain anything you will regret later."