Two or three tips for the proper use of e-mail, which is one of the most current technological tools – and sometimes the most tiring but also the most important – in the workplace (and beyond). In between: we have advice on WhatsApp, which is also one of the most current technological tools – and sometimes the most tiring but also the most important – in the workplace (although there are those who are against WhatsApp in a business context)
An email should be short, direct and personalized to the recipient. On the other hand, an email should not have too many punctuation marks, negative reviews, or be sent outside business hours. Despite its speed and efficiency, there are still those who prefer more immediate communication through apps like WhatsApp. However, opinions differ on this point: there are those who believe that only applications approved internally by the company should be used (and that free applications should be avoided), but there are those who believe that the use of external programs is legal can be to clarify quick doubts.
The subject of the e-mail must reflect the content, in addition to capturing the recipient’s attention, while the text must be revised before the e-mail is sent, to avoid “orthographic, syntactic or typographical errors”, explains the director of quality and Multipessoal audit , Raquel Ramalho. Additionally, the right people should be selected to include in the recipient list, and also use the CC option, depending on the subject. The goal is for the language to be appropriate and the message to make clear what is expected, he adds.
Mário Rocha, senior manager at Hays Portugal, explains that an e-mail in the context of work must always be accompanied by a professional tone, but must also be appropriate for the context, the subject and even the relationship with the recipient. This is a view also shared by the Adecco Group, which also recommends including a greeting at the beginning and a greeting at the end of the email.
Regarding the signature, the Adecco group emphasizes that it must be coherent, up-to-date and with elements such as name, function, company, address or telephone number, which also underlines the need to respond as quickly as possible.
Email: I ❤️ Times New Roman
Messages that are too long should be avoided, or if this is impossible, it is recommended to divide the text into points to better organize the reading, since “too long emails become tiring and part of the content can be lost go during reading” ”, explains the Hays senior manager.
Multipessoal’s audit quality director recommends not sending emails outside of working hours, even if we are in a context of greater flexibility and remote or hybrid work.
“Although there are situations of greater urgency in response, it is important to prioritize individual well-being and communicate at a compatible time. The practice of using a disclaimer about response times or times at the end of the email signature is a reflection of this.”, points out Raquel Ramalho, director of quality and audit at Multipessoal.
In turn, the use of capital letters or excessive punctuation in the title and body of the email, except in specific cases, should also be avoided, as it can be misinterpreted as a more aggressive tone, explains Raquel Ramalho. Using e-mail as a chat, exchanging too many messages in a short period of time, should also be avoided, as it does not guarantee a faster response from the other side.
The Adecco group also recommends avoiding abbreviations, negative reviews and the use of overly sophisticated fonts, and instead advises the use of fonts such as Times New Roman and Arial.
WhatsApp: no consensus
The Adecco group emphasizes that the use of any program, whatever its type, must always have the approval of the information technology team, even when we are talking about free software – as they do not have security systems that can be controlled. In this sense, the transmission of confidential or day-to-day information of the company should remain limited to internal or authorized software, and it is also advisable that this information is available in the code of conduct.
Mário Rocha, on the other hand, suggests that the use of external applications may or may not be appropriate depending on the subject addressed, its importance, sensitivity and, again, the relationship with the recipient. In the case of confidential and extremely important matters, Hays’ senior manager argues that email is the most appropriate channel.
As for other matters, continues Mário Rocha, there are people who prefer to use more informal and direct channels, such as WhatsApp. However, he emphasizes the importance of knowing the right moment and theme to use one or the other.
Also in this sense, Raquel Ramalho points out that companies must provide various means of communication and explains that during the pandemic people have become accustomed to communicating digitally. Tools like WhatsApp or Microsoft Teams made it possible to maintain the work rate and business continuity in a period where it was needed, he adds. But while these tools emerged as a short-term solution, this form of communication remained and spread.
“Currently, the big challenge for organizations is to ensure that these tools are used in the right situations and to succeed in demonstrating that they should not replace the more formal and structured contact through e-mail and even face-to-face communication ”, says Raquel Ramalho.
The person in charge of Multipessoal also emphasizes that external chat tools can and should continue to be used to address certain topics, such as quickly clarifying doubts or exchanging impressions and reminders. However, Raquel Ramalho argues that it is fundamental that organizations are able to revalue other forms of communication.
Emails: the inappropriate
In the case of an inappropriate email, Mário Rocha maintains that it should be managed by someone senior or another superior, so that appropriate measures can be taken. The Adecco group also agrees with the words of Mário Rocha, who emphasizes that common sense must be used, but warns that it is difficult to define what is inappropriate.
When an email is involved that makes someone uncomfortable, it should be reported to the direct supervisor in a natural way, Adecco argues. If the problem is with that same manager, you should talk to the human resources department so they can help resolve the situation in the fairest way possible.
Raquel Ramalho calls for the analysis to understand if the email was really intentional or if it could be misunderstood in some way. “You should not immediately take a defensive and/or aggressive position, and the first step is not to react immediately”, he adds. Next, the relevance of answer should be analyzed and then “organize thoughts” before constructing the answer, so as not to be impulsive or recycle past situations while narrowing down the theme.