How many times have you wished that all the chain mails in your mailbox would disappear at the blink of an eye, or that the person on the other side of the IM conversation would stop sending irrelevant messages? Every single day of my life I wish that someone would drill some sense into those people who haven't a clue about email and instant messaging etiquette. This article is an effort to try to reach out to those people.
Etiquette of Emailing
Be informal but not careless
While drafting an email to external customers, follow the standard protocol, since the email reflects you and your company.
Write concise messages
Make sure that your messages are brief, because most people dislike long and unnecessary email messages. Try and concentrate on only one subject per message (if possible).
Follow the rules of sentence case
Do not use capital letters unless applicable. If necessary, you can use asterisks and bold formatting to emphasize important words. Try not to use colors and graphics because not every user you send the message to has an email program that can display them.
Do not overuse/misuse the 'BCC' and 'CC' functions
It is advisable to use the CC function when sending the mail to a large number of people, as it will ensure that the recipient does not see a long list of names. Use CC only when sending the email to people who are directly involved.
Do not avoid personal contact because of emails
Emails should never be used instead of face-to-face conversations. It is acceptable to talk to people who are present rather than sending an email.
Write what you want read
Remember that emails can be retrieved and examined even after they have been sent (unless you are using an encryption device), so try and write the email message in the same way that you would write a postcard. Keep content in the email professional.
Use group email sparingly
Utilize the reply all button only when compiling results requiring collective inputs and only when they have something to add.
Make proper use of the subject field
When writing an email message, use the subject line to state content and purpose. Do not just say Hi; if necessary, decide on certain abbreviations that you can use when sending internal mails. You can also mention long in the subject line, if necessary. It will inform the recipient how much time to allot to read the email.
Do not send junk mails or chain letters
This is one thing that I really abhor and I am sure that a lot of people out there also feel the same. Be honest with people who constantly send forwards. Remember your writing does not convey your tone. Use emoticons sparingly to convey your feelings; also do not use sarcasm, as it may be misconstrued.
Include personal information with your signature
While signing off, include a signature that also has contact information. You can include information like mailing address, website, and phone number.
Send the email only after proofreading it
An email that has grammatical mistakes will certainly not say much about you, so it is advisable to read the email before sending it.
Instant Messaging Etiquette
It is simple etiquette to inquire if the person on the other side has time to chat. To do this you can send a simple message like Hi, can we chat? If the person on the other side replies in the negative, it is important to respect their decision and try another time.
Keep your messages brief
Instant messages should be short and sweet. If you find that you would like convey more in a message then it would be better to either pick up the phone or switch to email.
Be careful what you write
Instant messaging is similar to placing words in a place for all to see, it is thus better to write messages that portray you in a good light. Remember that instant messages can be saved and forwarded.
Keep the message informal
Using IM to break up with a boyfriend, reprimand an employee, or criticize a colleague is a strict no-no. If you need to do any of the following, be brave and tell the person what you feel about them face-to-face.
Use jargon sparingly
Everyone who uses instant messaging may not be comfortable with jargon and abbreviations. It is thus important to first gage the situation and use jargon appropriately.
Use emoticons to express yourself
If you want to display some emotion use the emoticon. Cute, funny, and sad―you can display any emotion using this feature.
Avoid careless writing
Be careful while writing messages, because typos are a real turn off. Also, remember not to criticize another person's typing.
Be careful when multitasking
Often communication skills are taxed when you carry on more than one IM conversation, or a phone conversation. It is better to do one action properly rather than ruin all of them.
Use message alerts
Use instant messaging alerts to let others know when you are going to be out of touch. You can let your creativity flow to make the messages more informative. Go ahead and have some fun.
Follow the code of conduct
Use the instant messaging service appropriately. Do not use another ID to spy on your friends. If you do not want to be disturbed, it would be better for you to avail of the services that are offered on IM.
After this article I hope that your mailbox as well as mine will be devoid of junk and chain mails. I certainly hope it isn't a case of wishful thinking on my part.