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HR Magazine: 15 Do's and Don'ts

HR Magazine, July 2001Vol. 46, No. 7

Don't Touch That 'Send' Button!

1. Use e-mail to prepare a group of people for a meeting. “Thank you for making time to attend Wednesday’s board meeting. Before we meet, please review the attached articles about Attention Deficit Disorder in mice and be ready to discuss them.”

2. Use e-mail to set up meetings. “Possible dates for our retreat include July 10, July 11 and July 15. Please let me know which date is best for you.”

3. E-mail is great for recapping spoken conversations. “As we discussed this morning, Jane Smith of ABC Corp. will supply 75 seat cushions for the football game next Saturday.”

4. Do transmit regularly scheduled news feeds, reports, etc.

5. Do use e-mail to distribute exactly the same information to multiple recipients.

6. If you’re seized by a fit of creativity in the middle of the night, read your messages again the next morning before sending them. Your ideas (not to mention your level of coherence) may look different in the light of day.

7. Remember the rules of spelling and grammar. Bullet points make a message easy to read, but sentence fragments (sentences that do not contain a subject and a verb) do not. It is hard to understand sentences that don’t have punctuation or capitalized letters at the beginning of sentences. Use the spell check that comes with your e-mail package.

8. Include a greeting and/or closing, such as “Hi Charlene” or “Best wishes, Bob” unless you are involved in an ongoing conversation, in which case, you might want to pick up the phone or walk over to the person’s desk.

9. Don’t forwarding a long chain of e-mail without changing the original subject line. This results in subjects like “FW: FW: RE: FW: RE: Our Meeting.”

10. Don't e-mail someone who sits across the aisle fromyou. If you're recapping a meeting, it's OK. But if you have a question for discussion, try the old-fashioned approach of speaking to each other.

11. While everyone loves a good joke, the novelty has worn off most Internet "humor." Long lists of "You Must Be a Texan If ...," "Why I'm Glad I'm Not a Woman," "You Are a Child of the 80s If ..." are tiresome and chances are good that the recipient already has read it.

12. The same goes for exhortations to save the rainforest, warnings about new kinds of corporate scams, computer viruses and pleas to send greeting cards to 10-year-old psoriasis victims. For the record, Neiman Marcus doesn't sell $200 cookie recipes.

13. Avoid chain letters. Suffice it to say that you will not win $1 million if you forward a chain letter. Similarly, you will not be mired in bad luck if you do'nt forward a chain letter. Bill Gates will not send $5,000 to everyone who forwards this e-mail.

14. Don't use e-mail to lambaste a colleague, and don't copy others on the message. That's tantamount to chewing out someone in front of a room full of his/her peers. Disagreements or discipline are best handled in person, or at least, over the phone. If you recieve a scathing e-mail, resist the urge to write a similarly scathing message in return. Take the high road. Offer the olive branch. Or, ignore it.

15. Never write something in an e-mail that you wouldn't want published in the newspaper. Even if you send it to someone you trust, e-mail with sensitive, mean or potentially embarrassing information has a way to being forwarded beyond your original audience.


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