Electronic Communication and the Negative Impact of Miscommunication

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Electronic communications, improve efficiency and productivity, but poorly written emails can cause internal strife, low morale, and loss of clients. Effective written communication will enhance internal communications as well as external communications. The ability to write effectively is a core skill that all employees, no matter what their title is, should master. If the content of an email is unclear, grammatically incorrect or is full of typos, the email will cause misunderstandings and the possible loss of business. A chain reaction of emails or letters will occur, questioning the next course of action and clients will undoubtedly believe that we will treat them with the same carelessness we took in creating that correspondence. Case in point, a letter was recently sent to one of our clients misquoting our fees, a second letter was sent to the client correcting the fee, but was addressed to the wrong person. We have since lost this client. Jonathan Hershberg, president of Opus Associates, a communications training developer based in New York, states, "If I get an e-mail that's full of errors and I know nothing else about you," Hershberg says, "there's no reason for me not to think you'll handle my business in the same way you handled that writing." (Moerke, A, 2004) We have seen an example of this kind of writing. A benefit distribution memo was created for the wife of a deceased participant. The salutation of the letter addressed the deceased, not the wife. Correspondences regarding death benefits require special attention. Correspondence should never be addresses to the deceased. All writers should use the method of prewriting, brainstorming, writing and organizing, revising for style, and proofreading to produce memos, letters, emails, and reports The suggested percentage of time spent on each writing step is as follows: (Jaderstrom, Miller, and Office Pro June 2004)

Prewriting 12.5%
Brainstorming 25.0%
Writing and organizing 25.0%
Revising for style 25.0%
Proofreading 12.5%

Emails are less formal then letters or memorandums; and the authors of emails tend to abbreviate words and use slang to get his or her meaning across quickly. This may be acceptable for communication inside the company, but it will confuse external clients. John Patrick, President of Attitude, LLC states that "Email is a form of writing. Like with pen and paper, some people are good at it and some are not. Well written email is powerful and has numerous other positive attributes, including its ability to be sorted, archived, indexed, and so on." (Crainer, Stuart, Dearlove, Des, 2004).

Email is a form of communication and much effort and attention should be given to the content of the email. An email that is seemingly innocent to one reader may spark anger in another reader. When this happens, the fist email can cause a chain of events, causing hurt feelings and misjudgments. Instead of focusing on work related issues, the employees will discuss how they were affected by the tone of the email.

There is certain etiquette that should be followed when composing an email message. For example, if the message is short enough to state in the subject line, then do so. Inserting the message in the subject line will allow the reader to see the message clearly without having to open the email. Many employees receive emails from outside sources, such as Spam or websites that they have visited. Cutting down on Spam will greatly boost productivity. The Reply and Reply to all buttons also require special attention. One can accidentally send an email message to everyone on the distribution list instead of the person intended. Once the send button is pushed, there is no taking that message back. We have recently seen this happen with an email reprimanding an employee for not assembling plan documents properly. Instead of the author of the email selecting...
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