Sep 6, 2012

National Courtesy Month

Singa the Courtesy Lion
Singa the Courtesy Lion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
September is National Courtesy Month.  In a way I think that it is sad that we need a month to remind us to be courteous but on the other hand perhaps isn't such a bad thing to go back over some of what it entails.

I find that people tend to be a lot more polite in person.  We were raised to say please, thank you and you're welcome.  I tend to find however that courtesy gets pushed the the wayside when it comes to email and social networking.
For the most part it really comes down to treating others as you would like to be treated. 

With email there are some added considerations though so I decided to share some suggested rules.

  • Make your Subject field meaningful.
    Let the recipient know what your message is about. Well-chosen words in the Subject field may help your message get attention sooner.
  • Know your audience.
    Use a more formal tone if you do not personally know the recipient. Check beforehand to see if a recipient is interested in receiving material that some might consider annoying; e.g., jokes, political messages.
  • Be concise.
    Keep an e-mail as short as possible. If it must be long, break it up into paragraphs with headings that the reader can scan quickly.
  • Don't reproduce an e-mail message in full when responding to it.
    Select only the parts that you want to answer. However, do not edit quoted messages to change the overall meaning.
  • Be careful about forwarding.
  • Check your e-mail regularly and respond promptly.
    Ignoring a message is discourteous and confusing to the sender. Always reply to an e-mail, if only briefly, to let the sender know you received it.
  • If a message is important, follow up.
    Never assume that a message you sent has been read. Follow up an important message with a phone call if a reply is overdue.
  • Don't spam.
    In the context of e-mail, spam means electronic garbage. Sending junk e-mail (e.g., advertisements, chain letters) to a group or to someone you don't know is considered "spamming."
  • Don't "flame."
    A "flame" is an inflammatory or overly critical response to an annoying message (e.g., spam, controversial statement, incomplete information). If you do get flamed, it's best to just ignore it. Responding to a flame can escalate into a "flame war."
  • Don't use ALL CAPS.
    This is the online equivalent of shouting. Avoid using a string of capital letters in your correspondence unless absolutely necessary.
  • Be patient.
    Wait before re-transmitting a message or sending a follow-up message.
  • Keep your signature lines short.
    Large signature blocks (more than four lines) are generally considered rude. 
Also remember that the person that you are 'talking' with is unable to hear the tone of your voice so you might have been making a joke while the person on the other end might take it as something else entirely.  Use of emoticons can really help with that.
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