E-mail, how do you use it?1

Learn a little about sending e-mail

Even with the best of intentions, misunderstandings are likely to occur in almost any type of communication. It is possible to repair glitches in a face-to-face dialog or even a telephone conversation before any lasting damage occurs.

These participants are able to change their tone of voice, to rephrase comments and to present body language that  welcomes further communication and thus promotes understanding.

However, electronic mail does not offer the benefit of these signals for e-mail users. And so, it is hoped that the guidelines offered herein will help reduce the  misunderstandings and other communication challenges that e-mail brings.

Receiving and Responding to Messages



According to the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision making, one attribute of e-mail that most distinguishes it from other forms of communication is its ability to evoke emotion in the recipient.

Further reading:-

Causes of flaming

How to minimize its occurrence


Make use of bullets and short paragraphs whenever possible. The more succinct you are the more likely your message will be.

Causes of flaming

The ease of creating an immediate and not necessarily thoughtful response to an e-mail message is often too tempting.

Interpersonal cues that aid the face-to-face communication process, immediate feedback and body language are completely absent in this medium.

It is difficult to tell the level of formality of a message from its appearance; all messages look somewhat the same.

Without face-to-face communication, attempts at humor, irony, sarcasm, and wit are often misinterpreted. Your joke may be viewed as   criticism by some.

Minimizing Flames and Flaming

In written and telephone communications, time can soften the edge of an ill-conceived response. A hasty e-mail response can remain permanently in sharp focus. To minimize e-mail communication problems:

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1 This article has been lifted in it's entirety, and edited slightly by me, from http://www.library.yale.edu/training/netiquette/ without permission and is intended only as a guide for others.