For better or for worse, email and text messaging are the two primary ways people communicate in this tech-driven world we live in. Let’s face it, if you have used either one of these methods for any length of time, you have probably experienced sending at least one e-communication that had some degree of improper etiquette, maybe more, only to wish it could somehow be unsent.  I admit that I’ve written a few bad ones in my life and have learned the importance of stepping away and to always take a pause before I send it.

Because of the amount of e-communication that we send on a daily basis, proper etiquette in those messages are critically important. And, if we don’t treat them that way, it can result in the recipients of those messages being completely offended and your judgment abilities called into question and even go as far as damaging relationships. And I don’t want you to experience any of those things. Here are some e-communication etiquette basics I found helpful, hope they help you too:

  • NEVER! send an e-communication message when you are angry, and take the time out to cool down and re-read a message before sending it, make sure that nothing has been written that may be regretted later.
  • ALL-CAPS in your e-communication. Using all uppercase letters in your e-communication is CYBER SHOUTING. As an alternative, use asterisks to emphasize keywords. “We had a *wonderful* dinner last night.”
  • Personal e-communication. If you are sending confidential or time-sensitive information, use the phone or meet in person. Don’t send or say anything you wouldn’t want to be repeated.
  • Sloppy e-communication. It pays to check your e-communication before you click. Before you hit the “send” button, check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Take an extra minute or two to proofread, or read your email out loud to be sure that it says what you want it to say.
  • Joking e-communication. A joking e-communication may seem innocent but it may be insulting to someone else.
  • Loooong e-communication. Keep it short. If possible, put your full message in the subject line. For example, “Can we meet this afternoon to check the procedure?” then finish the sentence with (EOM), the acronym for “end of message.”
  • Buddy-buddy e-communication. It’s better to be more formal than too casual when you want to make a good impression.
  • Congratulatory e-communication. A congratulatory e-communication doesn’t have the same impact as a personal thank you note, no matter how many people you copy on the message. Besides, most people cherish typed or handwritten notes.
  • Oops e-communication. If you receive an e-communication that was sent to a multitude of people, including yourself, reply only to those who need a response.
  • Tone in your e-communication. As you already know, the tone in a message can be easily misinterpreted. Take the time to make sure your message communicates a tone that can be easily received. The best way to gauge this is to have another person read it before sending it.

Anyway, borrowing from that old carpenter’s adage “measure twice, cut once,” when it comes to sending e-communication, be sure to “Stop and think twice” before hitting that Send button.