|Email etiquette is an important skill for contractors in all drilling trades.|
Even though email is a wonderful tool, the poor/improper use of the tool can actually lead to communications problems. I have worked for both very large and small companies over the last several years and have seen the good and bad of email usage. Perform an Internet search on “email etiquette” or “proper use of email” and hundreds of results will appear. Or, if you want a good laugh, do a search on “email blunders” or “email fails” and see how the poor use of the technology can be disastrous. Below are some thoughts on the use of email in a business setting.
Before even deciding to whom you wish to send the email, first think — would a phone call be easier? In many cases a simple phone conversation may be the best communication method, and it’s fast too. It takes time (or it should take time) to compose and review an email. Who wants to sit in front of a computer and type when you can pick up a phone and make a call? You may be surprised at how you can build and maintain relationships with clients and co-workers with a simple phone call.
Once you have decided to send an email, the next question is who should be on the distribution list? In most cases, the fewer the people the better. If the email concerns only the accounting department of the company, don’t include the operations department. Think about it this way — if you were going to have a face-to-face meeting or a conference call, who would you invite? That’s who should be in the distribution list. Oh yeah, make sure you send the document to the correct person. You may have several “Mikes” in your address list, and if you are requesting an internal review of a bid, you certainly want to make sure you send the message to “Mike” your co-worker,” not “Mike” your potential client.
This brings me to my next point, probably the most hated of email issues, the dreaded “reply to all.” If you receive an email and only need to reply to the sender of the email, don’t hit “reply to all.” Not everyone needs, or quite frankly wishes to see your response, so why send it out to the entire distribution list? In the past, mostly on Monday mornings, I have received many emails about deer hunting, babies crying, cute dogs and what went on over the weekend sent to a giant list of folks in the organization. When other people sent responses “reply to all” it was a nightmare of nonsensical drivel that clogged everyone’s email for days. Again, think before you reply to all.
So, you have determined that you want to send an email and who will be on the distribution list. Now it’s time to type the message. Here’s where things can really go wrong. If this is a business email, use all business writing conventions in the email. Properly utilize punctuation, capitalize the first letter of sentences and use paragraphs. When recipients see one huge block of text, they just groan and lose interest before they start to read the message. Proper English should be utilized, not text language. If you type “can we plz sch a mtg to discuss ur ideas. ru OK with B4 10 2morrow?”, trust me, you will not be taken seriously. Keep texting and business emails in perspective. When you send a business email you are not texting your 16-year-old child.
Finally, remember that your message is now just words on a screen. There is no tonal inflection or emotion. Many people have been offended by an email simply because the words on the screen are taken out of context. So, before you send the message, try and read what you wrote from the perspective of the recipient. Does the message seem angry? Did you use all capitals for any words or sentences? All caps denote yelling in email and texting vernacular. While you may think that capitalizing a sentence mean “this is important,” some readers may be offended by your “yelling.”
Speaking of email yelling — it is almost never prudent to send an email in anger. If you are upset by a co-worker, vendor, supplier or client, it is never a good thing to bang out an angry response and immediately hit send. Remember, once sent, your response is in writing and in cyberspace — forever. If you feel the need to respond via email, type and save the email as a draft, move on to another task and review the response later in the day or even the next day. Most times, after you read your initial response, you will decide to delete the entire thing and either re-write the email or make a phone call.
Before you hit the send button — STOP. Now it’s time to review the entire process. Would a phone call be better than the email? Are the right people on the distribution list? Did you use proper language and punctuation? Did you perform a spell check on the message? After the review, it is time to hit send. But remember, send is permanent, you can’t un-send.
David S. Bardsley is business development manager for Directed Technologies Drilling. For more Bardsley columns, visit www.thedriller.com/bardsley.