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New Rules for New Technology

New Rules for New Technology

Jacqueline Whitmore | DivineCaroline

November 14, 2008

Blame Alexander Graham Bell. In 1876, he invented the telephone; a completely new world of technology was born bringing with it both blessings and curses. In today’s global economy, technology is the essential link allowing us to communicate quickly and productively. But it can also lead to errors and misunderstandings that damage professional credibility.

The fallout from abusing email and cell phones adds to daily stress. To forestall frustration, here are some suggestions on handling “tech-no-etiquette” annoyances.


• Use the subject line to inform. An email’s importance is often determined by its subject line. Keep the subject line brief, specific and relevant or the receiver might accidentally delete or mistake your email for spam or an unsolicited advertisement.

• Treat emails like business letters. It’s better to be more formal than too casual when you want to make a good impression. First, include a salutation such as, “Dear Mr. Rodriguez” then focus on key points in the opening paragraph. Use the 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.

• Don’t shout. Using all uppercase letters is considered CYBER SHOUTING. As an alternative, use asterisks to emphasize key words. “Bob and I had a great time at the convention last week.”

• Skip the fancy decorations. Vivid colors, flashing symbols, or bouncing smiley faces (better known as “emoticons”) should be avoided in business communications.

• No email is private. If you wish to send someone confidential or time-sensitive information, use the phone or meet in person.

• Avoid mood mail. Email messages that convey strong emotion can be easily misinterpreted. Email should be avoided in potentially volatile circumstances when firing or reprimanding someone, or ending a contract as these situations are best handled in person. Never send an e-mail when you’re angry. Take time to cool down and re-read the email before you send it to be sure it doesn’t contain anything you will regret later.

• Proof it before you send. It pays to check before you click. Before you hit the “send” button, check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.

• Respect others’ privacy. 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 that of the sender.

• Be cautious about using the “Reply All” feature. 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 cases, the sender is the only person who requires a response.

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