January 01, 2000
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts January 2000 Current Issue
January 2000
Short Cuts:Netiquette: No smiley e-mails

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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