Email Etiquette - 'Netiquette' - Tips On How and When To Use Email ...and When Not To
Dear April Masini,
I have family across the country, with relatives in New York, Georgia and California. When it comes to important family news and event updates, I always head straight to email. It's so much easier to hit everyone at once. However my sister has told me recently that she realizes I am a busy mother, but the emails feel impersonal. When is it not okay to send an email?"
April Masini's Advice :
Dear E-mailing Mom,
E-mail is incredibly quick, efficient and accessible. It's changed lives around the world because of the way it's made communications easier. But e-mail etiquette is important! When your own sister tells you that your messages have grown impersonal, perhaps it's time you brush up on your netiquette.
When Not To Use E-mail
- Never tell anyone about a death, using e-mail. This kind of announcement should be done in person or by telephone. Even a written letter sent by snail mail is better than e-mail -- as long as time is not of the essence.
- Never break up by e-mail. It's just plain rude because it doesn't allow a response. It also invites an angry one way response, as an alternative reaction. Either way, it's not a very humane way to convey what is usually a painful message.
- Never use e-mail to say "I love you" for the first time. Cowardly is what that is. Those three little words are important -- especially when uttered to a loved one for the very first time. If you are the recipient of that first time message by e-mail, look out for commitment issues ahead!
When To Use E-mail (and Tips On How To Use It)
- Make plans by e-mail. Meetings, play dates for children and family get-togethers can all be communicated best by e-mail. In fact, having details in writing -- especially when a bunch of people are involved -- can cut down on miscommunications that may happen with phone calls, missed calls, phone tag, and messages left.
- Convey good news. Unlike bad news, good news is well suited to e-mail. Of course a person to person visit or phone call is best, but sometimes, like when a new baby is born, a celebratory mass blast e-mail is the best way to get the news out to everyone fast. It also eliminates anyone's feelings being hurt by getting the phone call announcing the good news last in the phone announcement list.
- Wrap up. Reiterate feelings after an in person meeting by e-mail. The follow up e-mail eliminates a phone call or a letter and while the written thank you note is irreplaceable as a landmark of good breeding, there are times when an e-mail thank you is fine: like when you and friends meet at a restaurant where no one of you is the cook or the hostess for the night. A quick "Great night last night. Thank you for inviting us!" by e-mail is perfect. If you are a guest at someone's home, however, call or send a hand written note.