23/11/1999 - 21:00

Internet manners hurt relationships

23/11/1999 - 21:00


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The growing reliance on electronic communication is causing many people to form bad writing habits.

Internet manners hurt relationships
The growing reliance on electronic communication is causing many people to form bad writing habits.

Emails are causing misunderstandings and breakdowns in interoffice relationships, simply because most people ignore basic Internet courtesy.

Sterling Software CEO Geoff Masters said people often used emails as a replacement for verbal communications.

“Emails written in capitals are a complete no-no and not answering emails is rude,” Mr Masters said.

“However, people should not automatically assume that their emails have reached the intended recipient – lost emails are as common as lost socks in the washing machine.

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“Another enormous irritant is an unrelated motto in the footer of emails. It is extremely disconcerting to read a spiritual, bravado statement or philosophical comment in an otherwise

serious, businesslike message.”

Scribe Consulting editor Tom North said email was taking the place of

traditional written correspondence.

“With its informal, casual style, email has led to the declining use of capital letters,” Mr North said.

“Misplaced or missing apostrophes and incorrect punctuation are all increasingly common in today’s business communication.

“Correct grammar and spelling are frequently notable by their absence and attention to detail seems to be a thing of the past.

“The reason for the decline in standards is pretty clear. Before the widespread acceptance of the word processor, most business correspondence was funnelled through a skilled pool of typists whose job it was to check for such errors and correct them.

“Today, with a PC on almost every desk, it is far more common for people to type and lay out their own work.

“As most people don’t have any formal background in punctuation and grammar – many schools having long since abandoned them as unfashionable – it is no wonder that standards have dropped,” he said.

Mr North said the email medium lent itself to unprecedented levels of

honesty in business communications – for better or worse.

“It’s faceless and one-way,” he said.

“Because you don’t have to see the person you are abusing, some go for broke and really vent their spleen.

“It gives people a feeling of anonymity so they say things they

otherwise would never have said.”

Mr North said businesses with sloppy written work were doing themselves a great disservice.

“Many people feel a business that doesn’t pay attention to quality in one area probably doesn’t pay sufficient attention to it in others,” he said.

“Another reason to take business writing seriously is that, as well-written copy becomes less common, businesses that can produce it increasingly set themselves apart from less talented competitors.”

Mr North said the key to writing diplomatic emails involved employing the same standards applied to a written letter.

“Make sure your email program allows you to run a spellcheck and always proof it before you hit the send button,” he said.

“While writing in upper case is widely interpreted as screaming,

writing entirely in lower case looks slack – especially when people don’t bother capping up ‘I’.”


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