Take the blizzard of e-mail messages that drop into the typical inbox each day. Add the nuisance from “spam,” or junk e-mail. Factor in downsizing, which has left many businesses short-staffed and remaining employees harried.
Don't forget the growing disregard for courtesy in general that surveys have identified in recent years. Add all that and you've got a recipe for a surge in bad e-mail etiquette.
Everyone with an e-mail account has the responsibility to check for new messages often and respond promptly.
Configure your e-mail program to check for messages automatically at regular intervals whenever you are online. Some individuals who are online all day set the interval at every few minutes.
The procedure differs with the specific e-mail program.
In Outlook Express, for instance, click on Tools on the program's toolbar and select Options. Under the General tab, in the “send and receive messages” area, adjust the number of minutes between message checks.
Before leaving, check mark “play sound when message arrives.” Click “Apply” and “OK” to make the changes take effect.
After you check mail the first time each day, minimize the e-mail program by clicking on the minus sign at the upper right-hand corner of the screen. That keeps the program active, so that it will continue to check for new mail, and issue an alert when messages arrive, throughout the day.
People often expect an immediate reply to e-mail. Regular delays of a day or more may signal that you're not with it, or can't manage a workload efficiently.
Acknowledging receipt of important messages is another golden rule of e-mail etiquette.
After an e-mail exits your computer it is broken into electronic fragments and sent over the internet in pieces. Each piece often travels different routes, and later is reassembled. Messages do, indeed, go astray and never arrive. The figure may be as high as 5 percent, according to some estimates.
An acknowledgment reassures the sender. At busy times, juts a few words will do: “Got it, thanks. More later.”
Message content should be respectful of others. Many people use capital letters for emphasis, without realizing that it's the e-mail equivalent of yelling angrily. DON'T DO IT.
One of the nastiest e-mail faux pas is forwarding messages that obviously are intended as strictly personal communications to other people without first getting the sender's permission.
If you receive one, assume the forwarder can't be trusted, and probably will broadcast your future messages, as well.
Ask before you send big graphics or music files to people who e-mail over slow, dialup connections. Most people still use these telephone-line connections. Downloading big graphics or audio file attachments can freeze their e-mail for an hour or more.
Start each e-mail with a greeting (Hi, Hello, Dear), and close with a polite word like “thanks.”
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