The Advanced Curriculum

Electronic Communication

Obviously, the world is better with all the stuff we have in our pockets, hands, and ears. Who could question that? In our appreciation for all things digital, however, even the most devoted of the super-connected must admit: Sometimes it’s tough to tame the rolling river of electronic effluvia. The issue is, how can we make the tsunami of e-mail, text messages, tweets, Instagrams, etc., work for us, not against us.

Dos and Don’ts for Electronic Communications

Some sensible guidelines to observe:

Keep your e-mails brief.

If you must go on and on, put all the other important information way up front. Realize I’m going to read about half of it, maybe.

I’m going to need an action point in just about everything you send to me.

If you’re marketing something that I didn’t request, realize that the moment I receive your fucking e-mail I’m going to implement the Block Sender feature in Outlook.

If you have a strong opinion and want to start a discussion about it, encapsulate your thought into one sentence, followed by “Let’s talk about it.” Do not use e-mail to convey complex positions that may be misunderstood by those who can’t read very well;

With every serious and nonserious e-mail, text message, or tweet that you send, imagine it being read by somebody who is suing your corporation and has the right of discovery over your electronic communications.

Before you hit send on any e-mail that contains your thoughts beyond a sentence in length, take a deep breath, count to five, and take a look at the distribution list of your e-mail. While you are at it, scroll down on the message and see how many e-mails preceded it in the chain. If you are junior to most of the addressees, make that a count to ten. If the CEO is on the list, count to twenty. Ask yourself this one question: Have I hit reply all when I didn’t mean to?

Do not use emoticons unless you are insufferably cute, ‘k? ;-<rb>

For the most part, people over the age of fifty do not understand the concept and proper way to send and receive text messages. Very often, they will want to have a brief phone call instead. Humor them.

Do not send and receive messages while in business meetings unless you intend to convey to the important people around you that you don’t have any respect for them. There are certain exceptions to this:

You actually don’t have any respect for them.

You are the senior person in the room and everybody knows you’re addicted to yourself.

You are checking the stock price obsessively, an excess that is accepted in virtually all public companies.

You are in the middle of a horrendous crisis and everybody knows that if the ball is dropped on it there will be hell to pay.

Somebody is having a baby or has just been arrested and you have warned everybody else at the meeting of the situation.

Don’t tweet unless you have your wits about you.

Don’t tweet personal stuff on a company account or one associated with your professional-related tweets.

Don’t tweet anybody a picture of one of your body parts.

Don’t put personal stuff on your Facebook page that is not consistent with your business persona if you have a reputation to maintain and an income to protect; people will not be persuaded that it’s okay that last weekend their manager of accounting services was at a bachelor/bachelorette party, smashed on hurricanes and smoking a blunt with a bunch of naked hookers, not even if it was Saturday night. And stuff on Facebook about how your boss is an asshole will have the expected impact. There is nothing private on social media.

For further information on the lessons contained here, refer to The Curriculum: Everything You Need To Know To Be A Master of Business Arts.

 Insufferably cute emoticon of a person winking with an enigmatic smile. The footnote number is not part of the emoticon.


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