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Contemporary Workplace Communication: Short Workplace Messages and Digital Media
Preparing Digital Age E-Mail Messages and Memos
- Business letters
- Interoffice memos
- Instant messaging
- Text messaging
- Social networking
E-Mail Is Not Going Away
- Preferred channel for most business messages
- Medium costing businesspeople two hours or more each day
- Replacement for paper memos inside organizations
- Substitute for some letters to external audiences
Complaints About E-Mail
- Workplace e-mails are confusing and poorly written.
- Many business school graduates lack writing skills.
- Poor texting and social media habits affect e-mail skills.
- The number of daily e-mails is overwhelming.
- E-mail is blurring the line between work and leisure.
- Messages are permanent and can be used in court.
- Almost a third of bosses have fired workers for violations.
- Face-to-face and phone conversations are richer than e-mail.
When E-Mail Is Appropriate
- Short, informal messages requesting information or responding to inquiries
- Effective for multiple recipients and messages that must be archived
- Cover document when sending longer attachments
Writing Plan for Information E-Mails
- Summarize the main idea in condensed form.
- Avoid meaningless words such as Help, Important, or Meeting
- Include a greeting such as Hi, Lily; Thanks, Lily; or Greetings, Lily.
- Reveal the main idea immediately but in expanded form.
- Explain and justify the main idea.
- Group similar ideas together.
- Use headings, bulleted lists, and other high-skim techniques when appropriate.
- Avoid wordiness but don’t sacrifice clarity.
- Conclude with the following information as appropriate:
- Action statement with due dates or deadlines
- Summary of the message
- Closing thought
- Include full contact information in a signature block.
Controlling Your Inbox
- Understand that e-mailing IS business writing.
- Let your coworkers know about your schedule for responding.
- Check your e-mail at set times, twice or three times a day.
- Apply the “two-minute rule.”
Replying Efficiently With Down-Editing
Down-editing means inserting your responses to parts of the incoming message.
- Include only the parts of the incoming message to which you are responding.
- Delete the sender’s message headers, signature, and all unnecessary parts.
- Identify your response with your initials if more people will comment.
- Use a different color for your down-edits.
Best Practices for Better E-Mail: Getting Started
- Don’t write if another channel– such as IM, social media, or a phone call–might work better.
- Send only content you would want published.
- Write compelling subject lines, possibly with names and dates: Jake: Requesting Presentation at Jan. 10 Staff Meeting
Best Practices for Better E-Mail: Replying
- Scan all e-mails, especially those from the same person. Answer within 24 hours or say when you will.
- Change the subject line if the topic changes. Check the threaded messages below yours.
- Practice down-editing; include only the parts from the incoming e-mail to which you are responding.
- Start with the main idea.
- Use headings and lists.
Best Practices for Better E-Mail: Observing Etiquette
- Obtain approval before forwarding.
- Soften the tone by including a friendly opening and closing.
- Resist humor and sarcasm. Both can be misunderstood.
- Avoid writing in all caps, which is like SHOUTING.
Best Practices for Better E-Mail: Closing Effectively
- End with due dates, next steps to be taken, or a friendly remark.
- Edit your text for readability. Proofread for typos or unwanted auto-correction.
- Add your full contact information including social media addresses.
- Double-check before hitting
Top Ten E-Mail Mistakes That Can Derail Your Career
- Expecting an instant response
- Completing the “To” line first (potentially hitting send prematurely)
- Copying and forwarding recklessly
- Thinking no one else will ever see your e-mail
- Forgetting to check for spelling and grammar
- Including inappropriate content (e.g., off-color jokes and other statements you will later regret)
- Not personalizing your message (e.g., skipping the salutation)
- Forgetting a subject line or failing to change it to match the “thread”
- Making address goofs
- Responding when angry
When to Write Memos
- A message is too long for e-mail.
- A permanent record is required.
- Formality is needed.
- Employees may not have e-mail.
Similarities in Both Memos and E-Mails
- Both carry non-sensitive information that may be organized directly with the main idea first
- Both organized with headings, bulleted lists, and enumerated items whenever possible for readability
- Both have guidewords calling for a subject line, dateline, and identification of the sender and receiver
Learning Outcome 2
Explain workplace instant messaging and texting as well as their liabilities and best practices.
Benefits of Instant Messaging and Texting
- Real-time communication with colleagues anywhere in the world is possible.
- Immediate sharing of information allows for quick decisions.
- Enterprise-grade IM applications instantly connect dispersed coworkers.
- Voice calls are substituted with quiet and discreet messaging.
- Messaging avoids phone tag and eliminates the downtime associated with personal phone conversations.
- Messaging allows coworkers to locate each other, even when out of the office.
- Productivity grows because users receive answers quickly and can multitask.
Risks of Instant Messaging and Texting
Some have banned instant and text messagorganizationsing for these reasons:
- Distractions in addition to the telephone, e-mail, and the Web
- Potential for leaks of privileged information when free consumer-grade IM systems are used
- Legal liability from workers’ improper use of mobile devices on the job, for example when texting and driving
- Phishing schemes, viruses, malware, and spim (IM spam)
- Evidence in lawsuits, subject to discovery
- Laws mandating that broker-client messages be retained for three years
- Potentially overwhelming tracking and storing of messaging
- Inappropriate uses such as bullying and sexting
Best Practices for Instant Messaging and Texting
- Follow your organization’s policies.
- Don’t disclose sensitive information.
- Steer clear of harassment and discriminatory content.
- Don’t forward or link to inappropriate photos, videos, and art.
- Never say anything that could damage your reputation or that of your organization.
- Don’t text or IM while driving.
- Separate business contacts from family and friends.
- Avoid unnecessary chitchat.
- If personal messaging is allowed at work, keep it to a minimum.
- Make yourself unavailable when busy.
- Keep your presence status up-to-date.
- Don’t send multiple messages if you don’t hear from coworkers immediately.
- Don’t use confusing jargon, slang, and abbreviations.
- Care about correctness. Proofread!
Text Messaging and Business Etiquette
Learning Outcome 3
Identify professional applications of podcasts and wikis.
Business Podcasts or Webcasts
- Elaborate to produce and require quality hardware
- Can be played on any number of devices
- Can be streamed on a website or downloaded
- Offer a friendly human face but require no human presence
- Replace costlier teleconferences
- Broadcast repetitive information that does not require interaction
What Is a Wiki?
- Cloud-based tool employing easy-to-use collaborative software to allow multiple users collectively to create, access, and modify documents.
Popular example: Wikipedia
- Crowdsourcing: tapping into the combined knowledge of a group or team to solve problems and complete assignments
Working on the same content jointly while eliminating version confusion
Four Main Business Uses of Wikis
- Keeping remote global team members informed and coordinated
- Creating a database of information for large audiences
- Facilitating feedback before and after meetings
- Providing a project management tool
Learning Outcome 4
Describe how businesses use blogs to connect with internal and external audiences, and list best practices for professional blogging.
Why Businesses Use Blogs
- To reach a far-flung, vast audience fast and inexpensively
- To keep customers, employees, and the public informed
- To invite spontaneous feedback and interact with consumers
- To create virtual communities, build brands, and develop relationships
- To address rumors and combat misinformation
How Businesses Use Blogs
Crowdsourcing: Organizations are soliciting customer ideas and other input.
Example: Crowdsourcing promotions that seek to connect with customers and to generate buzz that might go viral on the Internet.
How Businesses Use Blogs
Viral Marketing: Online messages spread rapidly, much like viruses pass from person to person. Content must resonate with many people who will share it.
Seven Tips for Master Bloggers
- Craft a catchy but concise title.
- Ace the opening paragraph.
- Provide details in the body.
- Consider visuals.
- Include call to action.
- Edit and proofread.
- Respond to posts respectfully.
Learning Outcome 5
Define the advantages and risks of business uses of social media networks.
Adopting the Facebook Model
Creating proprietary networks: Some corporations maintain their own internal networking sites for their employees.
Example: Red Robin’s Yammer, a private networking site
Connecting workers: Dispersed employees and their skills can be matched up.
Example: UPS uses Twitter to manage its team of 17,000 workers.
Crowdsourcing consumers: Companies invite customer input at the product-design stage.
Example: Dell’s IdeaStorm site solicited 26,000 new product ideas and improvements.
Risks of Social Networks for Businesses
- Incurring productivity losses
- Attracting the wrath of huge Internet audiences
- Leaking trade secrets
- Facing embarrassment over inappropriate employee posts
Using Social Networking Sites and Keeping Your Job
- Learn your company’s media policies.
- Separate work and personal data.
- Avoid sending personal e-mail, IM messages, or texts from work.
- Be careful when blogging, tweeting, or posting on social networking sites.
- Keep sensitive information private.
- Stay away from pornography, sexually explicit jokes, or inappropriate screen savers.
- Don’t spread rumors, gossip, and negative defamatory comments.
- Don’t download and spread cartoons, video clips, photos, and art.
- Don’t download free software and utilities to company machines.
- Don’t open attachments sent by e-mail.
- Don’t store your music and photos on a company machine (or server).
- Don’t watch streaming videos.
- Don’t share files and avoid file sharing services.
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