Getting back to the business of emailing

Technology has blurred the lines between spoken and written styles of
communication with the result that we sometimes struggle to strike the
appropriate note when writing emails. Here are a few guidelines to help you
write a business email.

While it is a written document, an email
has much of the style of a spoken conversation. The result is that we sometimes
create rapport while other times we may cause offence by our apparent lack of

Business is serious but we needn?t treat each other as strangers.

At same time, communication specialist Elaine Matchett urges
professionals to keep their business correspondence clear and respectful at all

There are there are three major faux pas when it comes to compiling

Unclear messages are a waste of time and cause confusion. Matchett says
should be one core message in every email, and an action statement that
clarifies what needs to be done as a result of this message.

Lack of professionalism is another common feature in business emails today.
Shorthand or slang words like those used on the Web can communicate laziness
or frivolity and are widely seen as unproffessional. "You are not "chatting?with
your friends;email is not social media so don?t use shorthand.'

Then there is plain rudeness. Matchett reminds writers to greet and say
you at the end of the conversation."Believe it or not, this can make a huge
difference to how your mail is received.'

Then there is the problem of perceived rudeness: People can?t rely on body
language or their voices to convey a message which makes misunderstandings a
common feature of distance communication. "Be sensitive to possible misreads
of tone' says Matchett.

Tone is a word that is thrown about whenever the issue of communication is
discussed, but what does tone refer too? "Most people understand tone in
terms of voice, but tone is actually the attitude perceived.'

As Matchett explains, the way people receive and react to a message is
determined by the tone. She says that in an email short sentences can seem
abrupt and curt, while long sentences can make the writer seem evasive or
confused. Finding the right balance will help you get the desired effect from you

Knowing when to use email to communicate your message is also important.
Following up a phone call with an email is sound business etiquette. It is also a
good idea to send an email when you need time to think about your messageor
when communicating with multiple parties, says Matchett.

"Never argue over email'. This is the number one rule of business emailing.
minor disagreements can escalate over email so always have serious
conversations in person and record the final agreement with an email.

The "Would I Say That' (WIST) principle is a good tool to determine whether
your message is appropriately phrased. Always ask yourself if you would be
willing to say the words in person or in a courtroom. If not, then rather choose
words that are more accurate and diplomatic.

The Better Business Writing and Email Intelligence course
held by Alusani Skills
and Training Network
will run on 30 and 31 January 2013 in Johannesburg.
For more
information call 011 447 7470 , email [email protected] or
visit the website Alusani Skills
and Training Network

By Cindy Payle - Portal Publishing