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Don't Set Fire to Your eMail
Practicing "Send-Button-Restraint" can save you a lot of grief
by Mike McDanie

It has happened to all of us. A pop-off remark at the wrong time, without thinking has caused a lot of grief. Sometimes it can be schmoozed over and sometimes the rift created is permanent. You may have seen the clever signs like "Engage Brain Before Operating Mouth".

The same applies to email messages. All it takes some hastily typed words and a click on send and "poof" there is no taking it back. Unlike the verbal pop-off, an email "Flame" does not give you the opportunity to see the receiver's face and realize that you made a boo boo.

This advice is not only for messages originated by you, but for replies to messages received by you as well. Remember the receiver has no way of seeing your emotion when you sent it and you have no way of seeing the reaction when received. Perhaps the message that set you on fire was not meant that way. Before you melt the Internet with a flaming message or reply, practice restraint.

1.Get into the habit of composing your email message off-line (most often in your word processor). Once ready to send you can highlight and save the message to the clipboard and paste it into your email blank. This gives you days or weeks to ponder the viability of venting your keyboard. After a day or two, a revisit to the proposed response might need a complete re-write.

2.Always include enough of the original email in your reply to tie the messages together. When you press reply, your email program will automatically paste the entire message in your reply. Don't keep the entire message. Highlight and delete the extras, leaving the words that prompt your reply.

3.Ask your email program to put all outgoing messages in a "queue". In that way when you press "send" the messages are stacked up to be sent at a predetermined time (every so many minutes, or when you close your program). The queue gives you a few short minutes as a last chance to change your mind.

Learn to keep your emotions in tow. Once you mail the email, there is no turning back. Don't say anything in an email message you would not say face to face.

If someone sends you an e-mail message that strikes you as just a little too critical, or you read a message in a discussion group that seems a little too offensive, chances are that you're misinterpreting the intent of the sender. Perhaps a message that you are taking seriously was intended to be taken sarcastically!

Haste-Before-Send will only serve to dump fuel on a fire of what could potentially become a "flame war," with combatants engaging in pointless verbal warfare, usually as the result of a misinterpreted message or an undiscriminating author.

Copyright 2004 BIG Mike McDaniel


BIG Mike McDaniel is a former successful radio station owner and major market TV News anchor and nationally recognized Speaker, Author, and Small Business Consultant.

Big Mike has authored four books and hundreds of articles and publishes a sales magazine. He has served as a Director of the International Idea Bank (a marketing think tank). He is the founder of the BIG Ideas Group, a marketing and management facilitator for small business growth through seminars, Master Mind Idea Exchanges, focus groups, distance learning, sales training and operational strategies.