Friday, March 31, 2006

Email Rules, er... Rules For Using Email

Smoke & Meers: Digital Hell

Sam wrote this great post on Continuous Partial Attention and some of the pitfalls of email communications. It got me thinking about email communications. I think he's on to something. Here are some office communication rules I would like to see everyone use:

1. When you have something to say to someone, go find them and have a face to face conversation.

2. Only use the phone to talk with someone when you have obstacles in your way that prevent you from having the conversation in person.

3. Never use email to start a conversation.

4. Only use email to send files.

5. If someone starts a conversation with you via email and you wish to respond, first attempt to talk to them in person (see rule #1).

6. If you have something to say to a group of people and want a dialogue with them... call a meeting.

7. Smiley faces are a poor way of communicating tone. If you think emoticons can prevent misinterpretation of your words you are in trouble. 55% of understanding what someone is saying comes from non verbal cues. 38% of understanding what someone is saying comes from tone. Only 7% of understanding what someone says is absorbed by listening to their words. In an email you cannot see body language, hear real tone or inflection or actually "listen" to what is being said.

8. Turn off the email. Put the phone off the hook and open the office door. Try it and see what happens. People who really need to talk to you will come find you. Then you can have a quality conversation because you are face to face.

9. Instant Messaging should also be avoided if possible, but is not as bad as email communications because of the real time conversation ability. Still need to be aware of misinterpretation of tone.

10. If you do use email, make sure that you have spell check set on automatic. This feature will always ask you if you want to spell check your email before it is sent. If you do not do this, and you have typo's in your communication you will come across as a) a poor speller and b) too lazy to check your communication before it heads out the door.

I'd love to hear feedback on these suggested rules. If you think this is worth talking about some more, please come find me to talk. If you'd like to get feedback from a group of people please set up a meeting for all to get together and discuss!


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