Posted Tuesday December 3rd, 2013, 6:14 pm by Dr Monica Seeley
Over fifteen years of writing two books on email best practice and many articles, not surprisingly I have files full of email media disasters from the early stories of naughty Claire Swire emails to the more serious ones where Kirsty Walk asked her PA to hack into someone else’s inbox to retrieve some damaging emails.
When will we learn that no matter how hard we try to erase an email we wish we had never sent, someone will have a copy. Furthermore as we become increasingly litigiousness many organisation now archive all email traffic in and out of their servers. Two press stories prompted me to write again on this topic. First, there is the phone hacking trial in which copious evidence is email related. At one point the management team tried to destroy all old emails only to find not surprisingly that they had been archived by their mail provider.
Second, was the recent email trail between Ed Miliband and a senior aide which branded Ed Balls as a ‘nightmare’. This was a classic case of not only putting something stupid into an email but then compounding the felony by sending it to the wrong person!
What can we do to avoid such email scandals which seem to now occur regularly? Recall the email. No that doesn’t work as I now have it and am intrigued why you are recalling it.
Here are my top three tips:
- Pause before hitting send and ask yourself what will be the consequence if this email is taken out of context? Is this something that I want other people to know about?
- Write a rules which sends all your emails to the draft box before they actually leave your device.
- Check and re-check that you are sending the email to the right Frank Smith/Jane Wise.
Most people feel compelled to either reply instantly they receive a new email or fire off an email when feeling cross. This usually results in unnecessary emails chains which often spiral into email wars and drive up the email overload. There is a time and place for chatting and gossip but email is not that place.
Do you want to reduce the risk that someone in your organisation will make an email faux pass? Call us now and ask about how our Brilliant Email Management masterclass can help you and your organisation prevent such email disasters (which are often very expensive in terms of damage limitation PR and putting people on gardening leave).
Meanwhile, dare to share, what are your tips for avoiding an email disaster? Have you ever been subject such an email scandal?
Posted Wednesday November 27th, 2013, 9:45 pm by Dr Monica Seeley
Experience is simply the name we give to our mistakes. Oscar Wilde
Over the last few weeks running email management and email etiquette workshops, many of you have shared some classic faux pas. The spell checker is great for those of us who cannot spell but it can lead to some real howlers if you don’t watch what is happening. Here are a few from recent Brilliant Email management training sessions:
‘Hell’ was the email greeting instead of ‘Hello’.
The Board were asked to line up their ‘dicks’ instead of their ducks’ ahead of a board meeting.
Visitors were asked what size ‘willie’ would they like rather than ‘wellington’ boots.
The IT department apologised in advance of weekend maintenance for the ‘incontinence’ rather than ‘inconvenience’.
The moral of these email faux pas is not only to think before hitting send, but watch carefully as you spell check your email. Paying attention, pays dividends when it comes to email etiquette and preserving your image – both your own and the company’s.
Dare to share email mistakes like these either that have been sent to you or you have sent to others? Copy of ‘Brilliant Email’ for the best one.
Posted Tuesday November 19th, 2013, 10:41 pm by Dr Monica Seeley
A couple of weeks or ago I had the pleasure and honour of running a Brilliant Email Management workshop for over one hundred NHS PAs at the NHS PAs for Excellence Wales conference. Here are their top tips for reducing email overload and using excellent email etiquette to save time.
- Creating rules eg for Cc’d emails; spam; junk emails; meeting planners; newsletter
- Drag and drop into folders
- Subject line – note what is required within the subject line, eg for action/for info/respond by…/
- One topic – one email
- System emails on server instead of BB
- Using information like ‘no response required’ or ‘action required’ in subject line
- When filing an email in a sub-folder, change the subject to one that fits/is more suitable to your filing or better suits the reason for keeping the email
- Make sure that the content is polite and no ambiguity – plain speech
- Switch off new email alert and try to check emails only three times a day
- Drag and drop emails into calendar/task pad for reminders eg complete survey by ‘date’ in good time
- Use the Out of Office message to manage sender’s expectations of when I will reply
- Colour code incoming emails
- Editing in situ
- Only put your signature once in an email
- 4D rule: Deal; Delete; Delegate or Defer
- Drag and drop emails to task pad
- Send a link not a file
- Things change; never be afraid to ask people to remove you from contact lists, distribution groups that are no longer relevant
- Use the facilities available – learn how to use Outlook to its full potential
- Check for typos before pressing ‘send’
- Keep emails succinct and relevant
- Plan emails, draft, review etc, if needed and ensure that the recipient needs to avoid return emails with questions
- Say it in the subject line – ‘EOM’ end of message
- Five bullet points maximum
- ‘Thank you in advance for your assistance’ is my favourite phrase – regrets having to thank someone afterwards
What would you add as your favorite tip?
Posted Friday November 8th, 2013, 5:46 pm by Dr Monica Seeley
The recent hacking of the Adobe website is a salient reminder of the need to remain vigilant about protecting ones personal information on-line. One of the most stark factors to emerge was the number of very weak passwords used by people. Email security and internet security depends in part of having strong passwords and being vigilant about what you post on social media sites. A recent report revealed that the most common passwords were ‘123456’ (190,000+ users) and ‘123456789’ (46,000+ users).
Creating a strong password is really quite easy. Think of a meaningful sentence and then take the first letter of each word and use it to construct a password. Turn a couple of letters into capitals/symbols and add in a couple of numbers and you have a strong password. For example:
In my youth my favourite singer was Leonard Cohen. A password might be 1mYMf3Wlc!
Three other top tips to follow to improve your email security are:
1. Password protect important attachments.
2. Do not put confidential information in the body of an email, rather either convey the information verbally or in a password protected attachment. Click here for an example of what can otherwise go wrong.
3. Remember that despite your best efforts email evidence is very rarely destroyed. Someone somewhere will always have a copy.
For those managing a business (no matter what size) a key part of your email and internet security must be your Acceptable (computer) Usage Policy (AUP). It must be up-to-date to take account of changing technologies, and you must have evidence that everyone has read and accepted its conditions.
Click here to access our free on-line tool to benchmark just how robust is your current AUP. Mesmo Consultancy have helped many clients improve their email security and reduce the risk of leaking sensitive and confidential information. Call us now for a free consultation and review about how vulnerable your business is currently (+44 (0)1202 434340) .
Posted Monday October 28th, 2013, 10:29 pm by Dr Monica Seeley
Hurray for the Harris Academy who earlier this month decided to ban the use of all slang and text speak in an effort to improve pupil’s English language skills. A person’s lack of command and competence with proper English is rendered naked in an email as many business people have discovered. An email sent on a company address is a business record and as such represents that company’s brand and image. Whilst slang and text speak may be acceptable socially, proper business email etiquette is a pre-requisite to developing good business communications.
How would you feel as a manager and/or business owner if your employees sent emails which do not reflect properly your brand and company values? Yet that is what thousands of people do every day. They write emails in which ‘there way to resolve the challenge is…’. ’They two will spellcheck their emails…’
Add to that the number of emails which contain text speak which many outside generation X and the Millennials see as a foreign language. Add too those emails which contain smileys and kisses and you start to see the problem. (If you are in the retail sector such emails can be enough to cost you a customer especially if they customer if a Baby Boomer or from Generation X who are used to properly written communications). Your email is your digital dress code. Sloppy email – sloppy you and your business. Business email etiquette is different to social email etiquette. Business emails need to be need properly structured, grammatically correct and spell-checked. After all it would not be good to ask fellow board members to get their ‘dicks’ lined up!
The ban on text speak and slang by Harris Academy is welcomed, because if we don’t start to educate today’s school children we might as well wave goodbye to English as you and I know it. This would a be a great shame and could be the start of the slippery slope to lower standards of email etiquette and business communications which will mean time wasted as we try to comprehend what is being said.
Use Mesmo Consultancy’s free ‘Email Etiquette Benchmarking tool‘ to check the quality of your emails. If you find they do not support your values and brand then it’s time to take the bull by the horns and educate your workforce before you lose valuable customers. Call me to discuss how we can help you.
Meanwhile, what’s the worst business email etiquette bungle you have ever seen/made?