Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts January 2000
Short Cuts:Netiquette: No smiley
In a world of casual Fridays and first-name-only greetings, how
does one strike a balance between tongue-in-cheek and cheeky in
electronic communications? Lacking body language and vocal
inflections, attempts at online humor might be misinterpreted.
Chat room regulars often head off miscommunication with
"emoticons" (faces "drawn" with punctuation marks), but virtual
smiley faces are less suited to the business arena.
Naomi Torre Poulson, founder and director of the Etiquette
School of Palo Alto, Calif., advises e-mailers to keep messages
succinct for clarity as well as courtesy.
"[E-mail] should only be used casually between people who know
each other fairly well," she says. "Make it brief, and try not to
use too many abbreviations." And although e-mail is a valuable
tool, paper is more polite in certain business situations. "E-mail
is not a substitute for sending a note," says Poulson. "It’s not
the most gracious way to say thank you."
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