Email and Merlot Don't Mix: 3 Things to Help Email Smarter


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As children, some of us had a primer to electronic messaging (e-mail, Instant-Messaging and Text-Messaging). Texas Instruments created the predecessor to today's interactive and animatronic “Leap Frog" toys, it was called “Speak-And-Spell. '

Speak-And-Spell was like and electronic version of your class room spelling bees. The red ginormous machine asked one to spell a word like “alligator, " you thoughtfully pecked out “A-L-L-I-G-A-T-O-R" on the yellow keys and hit answer. Speak-and-spell would repeat the word and tell you if you were correct or not.

By preference, I am a Mac user. On Macs, you can enable an active speaking voice tool from your apple menu. Until now, I though this feature was not very useful, but then I began reading many stories of either badly composed emails or email threads which should have been read aloud on a voice tool or Speak-And-Spell before the email's composer hit the “send" button.

I'm the only one who's taken notice of email faux pas. The Learning Channel (TLC) began touching on how lackadaisical we've become with email too. This month, TLC created a “Life Lessons" figurine with the caption: "E-mail and Merlot Don't Mix."

The figurine touches on the habitual epidemic of sending email correspondence and not thinking anything else of it: type, click, send, don't think about your email. In some instances, it causes nothing more than embarassment, other times, especially professionally it can cause dire ramifications: loss of job, company assets accidentally forwarded , etc.

Many embarrassing messages would be averted and data leaks avoided if people simply took a moment to look over their email or read their messages out loud. In lieu of not having a Mac or wiring your old Speak-And-Spell to your PC, here three things you can check before hitting the “send" button:

1. ) Avoid emailing when you're emotional: For example, work situations may get heated and if you write when you're angry, some of those emotions may negatively color your correspondence. Step away, get a latte, breathe deeply then type your email. Now that you have some perspective on the matter, double check your email, read it aloud and finally click “send. " Long terse emails like the ones between lawyers Diana Abdala and William Korman (the Bla, Bla, Bla email thread) could be avoided.

2. ) Read the email before responding: A few words: FEMA and Michael Brown. Mr. Brown's lack of acknowledging the emails content caused him much scrutiny during the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe and later the loss of his job.

3. ) Double-check the “To" field: Assume everyone in your contact group will get your message, the former Golden State Warriors Public Relations Manager, Eric Govan will confirm that this is a good idea . Think twice about forwarded jokes, images, or sending venting messages (see no 1. ). The NBA team's former PR Manager for the Warriors accidentally hit send when he forwarded on a “Ghetto Prom" pictures link. The email went to dozens of newspaper reporters, columnists and sports editors, as well as television and radio stations, instead of a short list of contacts.

Now that I'm done typing, I raise my wine glass to a wonderful communications tool, email and thank TLC for creating the perfect figurine to remind us all to check and recheck our email's conent and looking twice at the “to" field before hitting the “send" button.

Cheers and Salu.

Ms. Veniegas is an alumni of the University of Washington. Marilee joined the Marketing team at Essential Security Software, Inc. in 2005. She also serves as one of the ESS site editors for "I Want My ESS!" a stolen work and Small/Meduim Business (SMB) resource site.


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