Email Etiquette and the generation gap

Posted by on January 4, 2011 in geeky stuff | 0 comments

Guest post by Dr Monica Seeley, founder of Mesmo Consultancy and author of Brilliant Email.

Recent article in the New York Times and The Times (subscription req.), suggest that your preference for email over text messaging and on-line chat might symbolise your age. The young it seems have confined conventional email to a coffin in preference for shorter form of communication like text messaging and on-line chat. Whilst there is nothing wrong with all these short messaging systems, my question is what is the implication for business and personal productivity of text-based communications?

You send an email. How long do you think you have to make an impression on the recipient? Five seconds maximum. Sloppy message, sloppy you. What form of email is more likely to open doors, get you on the application list for a new job etc, professional or sloppy?

Observing the clients with whom I work and their most frequently asked questions suggests that many young people have forgotten the art of writing. Then of course there are the messages sent in haste and which have legal implications and often end up as evidence in court. For example, they contain factual errors, implicit acceptance of an error on the part of the sender (or their business), libellous content etc. The catalogue of email media disasters is littered with such examples.

Last but by no means least there is the time wasted whilst you try to work out what the other person is saying/asking and play unnecessary rounds of email ping-pong.

Being able to compose a professional email is therefore key both to the overall profitability of the business (no matter what size from micro to large global) and your own personal professional image. By professional I mean one which is grammatically correct, no spelling errors, structured to make it easy to read and contains a proper salutation and sign off. Regardless of length, it conveys the right message, right first time.

Text speak might be fine for social communications but for business communications, it’s time to re-learn the art of letter writing and some email etiquette.

For tips and hints on email etiquette to create a professional image and productivity see my website mesmo.co.uk and new book ‘Brilliant Email’.

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