Thursday, July 17, 2008

E-Mail Etiquette

Keith Ackerman
Keith Ackerman is one funny son of a bishop.
The following comes courtesy of the inimitable Keith Ackerman, LMSW... Vice President of Community Services & Chief Operations Officer for Central Dallas Ministries.
Interestingly, I have received multiple “comments” this week concerning the Internal E-Mail Traffic that occurs within CDM with requests to point out to 'offenders' their personal practices. Well, after pondering those requests, I have come up with the following CDM E-Mail Etiquette Protocol. If you can identify with one of these personas, I would firmly encourage you to adjust your style - It will endear you to your colleagues!

CDM E-Mail Etiquette
Are you one or more of these?

  1. The Sniper - This is the person who hides behind the PC to fire off emotionally charged e-mails, using terms and statements that they would never make in person. Keep in kind that Diplomacy is everyone’s responsibility at CDM – you are our Ambassador. Anyway, Face to Face discussion beats e-mail anytime! That way intent of words can be understood because of tone, body language and reflective follow up!
  2. The Alarmist – This is the person who puts the Priority Red Exclamation point on every single one of their e-mails thus resulting in people becoming absolutely desensitized by it!!! This useful tool should truly only be used if this e-mail correspondence is truly Urgent!!! Sadly, overuse results into a “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” type responses!!!
  3. The Exhibitionist – This is the Reply All Specialist. If you receive an e-mail that has been distributed to a large group and a response may be required, the offender chooses to Reply All rather than Replying only to the original sender. This results in unnecessary mail going into everyone’s mail box. There is also the Look At Me person who likes to show how witty they are!
  4. The James Michener – Ah yes – the novelist! This is the person who writes the equivalent of a short story in an e-mail requiring the receiver to have to read, re-read and respond. Solution: Pick up the phone, walk to an office or set up a meeting. Obviously by writing out so much of that information, a response is expected. Imagine the time that could have been saved by human interaction!
  5. The Lobbyist & Entrepreneur – Have a cause you wish to promote or a side business you are excited about? Then you could be a Lobbyist and/or Entrepreneur! We all are passionate folks here at CDM – otherwise we wouldn’t be here! The important thing though is to maintain the boundary of what is considered work related versus personal related in our internal e-mails! Please follow the Policy & Procedure that has previously been distributed.
  6. The Body Snatcher – Ever get one of those e-mails that the sender says “Yes. Let’s do that” with no threaded discussion or other information included in the e-mail? “Yes to what?” you wonder! Another aspect of the Body Snatcher is the person who puts the relevant information ONLY in the subject line and not in the body of the e-mail.
  7. The Control Freak – This is the person who MUST know that you absolutely, definitively received their e-mail and on EVERY e-mail they send they include a Received Receipt to confirm that you got their e-mail. Don’t desensitize us with this like The Alarmist does!
  8. The Graphic Artist – These are the folks who blitz you with fancy fonts, backgrounds, graphics and quotes! As a result, the message of the e-mail is often lost because of the clutter. Once again, you are an Ambassador of CDM. Be sure to separate professional and personal.
  9. The Thespian – This is the person who makes the e-mail a performance piece. Lots of drama, emotion and unnecessary prose. Often these e-mail come back to bite you because of the paper trail you have elected to initiate. Here like The Sniper, you would have accomplished much, much more if you had just put forth some effort to have a Face to Face.
  10. The Stock Piler & Procrastinator – This is one who saves up all of the e-mails that they receive and wait an unusual amount of time to then respond. As a result, the Sender assumes that the person either blew them off or never received it. If you find yourself in this category – try doing something like responding with “Got your message – I will respond by Monday.”
Well, I know this may qualify as being “The James Michener”, but hopefully this helps in our internal CDM On-line Community. If you feel that this would be of benefit to your staff, feel free to share. And Oh, by the way, please do not hit Reply All with a Red Exclamation Point and a Received Receipt Request to show how witty and funny you are! We already know!


Keith Ackerman, LMSW
Vice President of Community Services & Chief Operations Officer

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