Chapter 4

Email: Communication in an Electronic Age

The advent of electronic mail has expedited business communications, but at a cost to clarity and basic business etiquette. Many electronic messages reach their destinations in a state of linguistic chaos, lacking the traditional hallmarks of good business correspondence: a clear purpose, logical organization, and appropriate punctuation and mechanics.

Despite the conversational feel of much computer-based communication, email is a written form and should therefore observe many of the conventions associated with traditional business letters and memos. Work-related email messages should generally include appropriate salutations and closings, signature files, and standard punctuation and capitalization. In addition, in using email’s copying and forwarding capabilities, businesspeople should ensure that they are making wise choices and not adding unnecessarily to email volume.

Finally, email should not be viewed as an all-purpose replacement for face-to-face communications. Live interactions, whether on the phone or in person, are valuable tools for building and sustaining professional relationships. Especially in volatile or emotionally fraught situations, email is not a communications cure-all.