"Pigeon Mail or Email, Only Effective Mails Beget Replies" -by Janani Gopalakrishnan

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Laxmi, Apr 22, 2006.

  1. Laxmi

    Laxmi Administrator Staff Member Platinum IL'ite

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    Next to the World Wide Web (browsing, searching, and so on), email is the most widely used aspect of the Internet. Here are some tips for writing effective and courteous emails, which are not only a pleasure to read but also sure to get replies. In other words, here are a few pointers with regard to email etiquette. The day is not too far away, when finishing schools will start teaching students email etiquette along with table manners!

    Business communications have their own set of rules and etiquette. Let us not delve into those today. I am just going to share with you a few pointers relevant to our everyday exchange of emails, whether with friends, family members, business associates or total strangers. Let me begin with a set of pointers, and hope you will all add to this list through the Indusladies forum where you can discuss this article.

    1. Remember that an email is like a telephone conversation. As far as possible keep it short and sweet. However, when you are chatting with relatives or friends this is just not possible (oftentimes we resort to email because we can’t chat long enough on the phone, right?) So, in such cases, you can go on and on, and there’s no problem as long as your friend does not mind.
    2. Avoid forwarding jokes, funnies, fascinating photographs and other articles (however interesting) even if you have the faintest doubt that the person may not enjoy it. If you are one with a large circle of friends, it is likely that you will keep receiving a lot of forwards, which you in turn will be tempted to forward to more of your friends. In such a case, it would be a good idea to write a short mail to your friends asking their views about forwards – clarifying whether they would mind if you send them interesting stuff once in a while. I will explain the practical reason why many people mind forwards, especially those containing photos and graphics… Most email services give you a specified amount of storage space. For example, Gmail gives its subscribers 2 GB of space. However, there are still services, which provide only space as small as 10 MB! Forwards, especially those containing graphics, tend to be large in size and eat up storage space. This is the reason why many would mind. Of course, it is also possible that they are extremely busy and don’t have the time to read all the forwards – the stuff you send might simply be cluttering their Inbox! Similarly, if you do not like to receive forwards, don’t feel shy to tell your friends to stop forwarding mails to you.
    3. Sometimes, when you send an email to more than one person (for example, a team of people), the recipients get confused as to who is to respond to your mail. If so, it is very likely that none of them will reply. To clarify such situations, mark the person who ought to reply to your mail in the ‘To’ address section, and the others in the ‘CC’ section. Also, you can clarify further by addressing the mail to the person who has to respond. For example, I am sending an email to Rakhi, the Graphics & Design executive of a magazine, but I’d like to keep the Editor also informed about our conversation and so I am sending the mail to her too. In such a case, I would start the email as “Rakhi: Could you please…” There is no scope for confusion. The Editor knows that the mail is actually for Rakhi, and that it has just been forwarded to her for information.
    4. Never write an email in block capital letters. Writing sentences in capitals is equal to shouting. Write words in block capitals only when you want to emphasize a point. For example, you could say, “This is to inform you that all entries for the competition are to be sent NOT LATER than 15<SUP>th</SUP> April 2006.” This is acceptable. But if you write, “THIS IS TO INFORM YOU THAT ALL ENTRIES…” it is as bad as screaming at the readers. You can be more than 90% sure that they will be offended!
    5. You shot some great photos during your recent holiday and want to share them with your family and friends. Emailing it to them as attachments seems like the easiest choice, but if the total size of the attachments is more than 1 MB please ask the recipients’ permission before mailing them. Oopsie! Can you imagine how bad it would be downloading a huge attachment with a dial-up narrow band Internet connection? Remember that some of your recipients may not be lucky enough to have a fast broadband Internet connection. The best alternative would be to upload the photos on an online album service like Yahoo Photos or Flicker and send them the link.
    6. How do you address people in an email? For family, friends and others whom you are familiar with you can use the usual ‘dear’ or ‘hi’ or ‘hello’ or any salutation of your choice, but for unfamiliar people? In email it is perfectly acceptable to go without any salutation. For example, if I am writing to a person called Leah Brown whom I am not really acquainted with, I can start of the mail as “Leah Brown:” and go on with the subject.
    7. Although most email interfaces (including Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, and so on) these days facilitate Rich Text (that is, the use of various colors, different fonts, and all that jazz) try to avoid using Rich Text in your email. Remember that the recipient of your mail may not have Rich Text or HTML enabled in their email client. The output would be terrible to look at. All your italicized text would be bound by stars, you will see special characters here are there, the text will become littered with question marks, and so on. In short, the text will look weird when stripped of all the Rich Text formatting and viewed in a Plain Text format! Better to keep it simple and avoid the fancy formatting. At least you can be sure that what you see in your email client is what the recipient will also see!
    8. Pay a little attention to what you write. Remember your full stops and commas. Split up the text into paragraphs. Over all, make sure that the mail is readable. The reader should not have to put in any extra effort to try to decipher what you have written, figuring out where one sentence ends and another begins, where you are ending one subject and starting another, and so on.
    9. If your email requires an urgent reply, mention it in the email, explaining the urgency. Also mention a date or time by which you expect their response. (Remember to do this in a very courteous way.) People always respond better with a tangible date or time in front of them, otherwise it just gets added to their To-Do list and remains there!
    10. Pay a lot of attention to the kind of words you use in your email. The absence of face-to-face contact can lead to a lot of communication gaps. A person cannot read your facial expressions and figure out if a comment of yours is offensive or humorous! So, always keep it straight forward. If you are cracking jokes or teasing somebody, then use smilies to keep the tone light ;-)
    Look forward to hearing more tips on email etiquette from all of you! Make maximum use of the forum to take this topic further. Bye, till next month J
    You can visit the author online here
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2006
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  2. malar

    malar Bronze IL'ite

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    Episode 2 is also great!

    Hi Janani,

    You seem to be prompt with the episode 2 of Tech article. Once again, it is a great one, simple and useful article for day-to-day life. Good work!

    Today many use email as the preferred form of communication, while writing letters are slowly going out of practice with the technology advancement. Such tips about best email practices will be really helpful.

    Look forward to your next episode...:thumbsup

    Malar.
     
  3. sudhavnarasimhan

    sudhavnarasimhan Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Janani
    Very interesting article and well written also in a simple manner, easy to understand.

    It makes sense also not to send all those fwds without verifying if the person is willing to accept them or not, and all the various reasons for this! Some really good points...and i think you have covered all of them. Just the other day i was wondering how many of us have lost the habit of posting letters to friends! Most of the time we keep in touch thru email.... it is so easy and fast that i wonder how we can survive without this anymore!

    Thanks for the article...
     
  4. SVS

    SVS New IL'ite

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    Very Good!!

    Dear Janani,

    Very interesting and useful article. All points are worth to put it in action. Since email has become a major part in our lives, its better we use it in a proper way.
     

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