Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Business Communications: Online (part 2)

Emails and online correspondence are becoming more common everyday. As with all communication, there are rules that need to be followed. A person should be constantly aware of what image they are presenting in all business correspondence.

  1. NO SHOUTING. Typing in all capital letters is considered shouting. It should never be used in any business correspondence, unless it is an abbreviation. Acceptable example: ASAP. Unacceptable example: TURN THAT IN NOW. It is simply considered rude.
  2. Avoid chatspeak/netspeak. Business correspondences should not include terms that were invented in chat rooms or for texting. It is unprofessional and may confuse or offend your recipient. All correspondences should use correct grammar and sentence structure. Unacceptable example: lol, gtg, omg. 
  3. No smiley faces. Smiley faces fit under the last category but sometimes sending a smiley face can be considered friendly. One should only be sent when the person is a peer or subordinate. Don't send one to your supervisor, unless they send you one first. Avoid using anything beyond a basic smiley face. Even a wink can be misconstrued at the workplace and a digital one leaves a paper trail. Occasionally, acceptable example: :) Unacceptable example due to possible sexual connotations: ;)
  4. Reply promptly. Digital correspondences should be replied to within 24 hours. I've been known to fall behind in my replies and if this occurs, then begin your reply with an apology for your delay.
  5. Sleep on it. If you are angry with someone, then this is the one time it is acceptable to wait to reply. Do not wait more than 48 hours but give yourself time to cool down. Angry emails often sound even angrier than we intend.
  6. Include a greeting. Always begin with a greeting. Even a simple hello goes a long way. This tiny bit of extra effort goes a long way.
  7. Keep it short. Ever heard of "tl;dr"? It means "too long, didn't read". It's often said online because people do not like reading huge amounts of information online. Try to be succinct in your emails.
  8. Break it up: Paragraphs. This fits with the last tip. If you do need to send anything that fills over 1/4 of a page, then break it up into smaller paragraphs. This helps prevent any details being missed.
  9. Proofread. Before clicking "send", read over your email one last time.
  10. Reply all vs. reply. "Reply all" should be used on any team efforts. Everyone should be included in all the emails. Just double check which one you are clicking. Assume that your boss will see every email you send and use discretion in all work emails (this includes personal emails at the workplace).
  11. When in doubt, be professional. If you are unsure of the rules regarding correspondence, then err on the side of caution and be professional.
My personal tip: When I write business emails with any important data, I first write it in a word document. When completed, I copy and paste it into the email. It's a great way to check my spelling. This also helps avoid any loss of information if my internet goes down or the page times out.

    Business Communications (part 1)

    There are certain rules to follow at all times when communicating within the business world.

    1. Double check names. Always make sure you are spelling and pronouncing names correctly. That includes business names and personal names. This seems obvious but it is often missed. When on the phone, don't be afraid to ask how to spell someone's name even if it is a common name.
    2. Unknown salutations. As business is becoming more globalized, it is becoming more difficult to tell what someone's gender is. There are also names that make it unclear, such as, Jessie. The work-around is to simply use the first and last name. Example: Dear Jessie Smith.
    3. Contact information. With the advancement of technology, there are numerous options of methods to contact people. I prefer providing both an email address and phone number on all correspondences. This allows the recipient to decide which method to reply with.
    4. Professionalism. Keep all correspondences professional. It's one thing to have small talk, but it's another to include possibly offensive material. Avoid topics regarding any protected classes or that might be construed in a negative light. In other words, pretend your conservative grandmother is going to read it. If she would turn red or consider putting soap in your mouth, then it isn't appropriate.

    Who am I? Why do my opinions matter?

    My name is Bethany and I'm a recent graduate from Portland State University. I have three bachelor degrees: human resource management, general business management, and psychology. Does that make me qualified to speak about business? That's for my readers to decide.