“Information contained in this document, and in any of the annexed pages, is the intellectual property of ******** COMPANY. If you are not authorized to have access to this document or have received it by mistake, or by deliberation through unauthorized sources, please return it immediately or inform us at the address given below to arrange for its collection.”
We are born to a world, consistently struggling between online & offline communication. All official communication which was once maintained in Hard bound box files now find their place in bright yellow folders on the ‘my computer’ of some shared folder with limited access rights. This however does not mean that the hard bound version does not exist. That too exists, stacked away neatly in labeled files in some Godforsaken ‘file room’ which is occasionally opened to the ‘trying to peep in’ eyes of the employees.
The dilemma extends to online & offline means of communication, online & offline readings, online & offline bills & invoices, and online & offline offs as well. The hitherto well defined line (Format: Thickness – , Color – BLACK, Shadow – NONE) that defines on & off days no longer exists. Sick leave now means a ‘work from home’, casual leave means ‘will intermittently checks mails’, and Trek/Trip means ‘limited access to emails’. This gives birth to amazing creativity to out of office auto reply messages which we shall discuss in another post. People are always under the illusion of being connected and the multiple de-‘vices’ do nothing to improve the situation.
However, this post is NOT about general observations of online behavior. This is meant to address another dimension of online work life called e-mails. There are many aspects of e-mail communications namely:
1. The addressee – Hierarchy of address must mostly be descending, starting with the senior most. Alternately, it could be the other way round. Many a times, the urgency of replying to a mail differs in accordance with the positioning of id in the mail list. The farther the positioning of the name, the farther the priority of replying. The SIN in writing mails is ‘dear all’ and should be used only when intimating & NOT when action is required!
2. The CC Rule – It is mostly considered an insult if bosses of addressed are marked a cc on follow-ups. However, there exist a species of people who refuse to work without a copy to bosses unless their work goes unnoticed
3. The BCC Rule – This one should be a strict no-no. If the boss/colleague is in receipt of a mail where he is in bcc, he would not really not expect you to have more people in bcc when u send him a mail. Basic human tendency! So its best to steer clear of controversy
4. The signoff – Yours sincerely, Yours faithfully, Thanks & regards, Regards, BR, Thanks are all ways to sign off mails and say a lot about the person who is writing the mail. Some choose to even embellish their signatures with quotes (sometimes good) and icons (mostly unneeded unless corporate) However, yours sincerely/faithfully looks odd on an official mail…
5. The mail body – This is the funkiest part of the email. People can take offence for this like misplaced question-marks (how can you ASK me) or ill-placed commas. Typos are a big no-no…and so are incomplete names (such hurry?…I hate mails that call me “Dear Koma” how morbid!)
6. The footnote (read on)
It is important to note that all the above aspects, and importance attached to them are a function of an organization’s culture. (Here is a silent prayer for people on rotation in conglomerates!)
I would urge you to refer to the para where this post began to find out what triggered this post. The funny part is, if indeed I was not the intended recipient, and if by chance I decided to ‘return’ the document, how, in the name of the good Lord would I do it?? Send the soft copy back to the sender saying “consider returned”?
Guess I must just wait, until the transformation is complete…