Saturday, January 30, 2010

Email Etiquette 101

While most of us enjoy receiving emails from friends, we tend to enjoy reading "clean" and properly formatted emails much more than sloppy ones. We prefer receiving well written and properly punctuated emails over those containing poor spelling, bad grammar, and incorrect punctuation. And many among us do not particularly relish the thought of our email addresses being "publicized" to people we do not know when a friend forwards an email to multiple recipients. Here are a few etiquette tips to keep in mind when sending emails:

DON'T automatically assume that all of your friends are eager to be forwarded every single joke, inspirational, or "chain" email you get. Some people don't have the time to read unnecessary emails and will most likely delete them without opening them. Other people don't mind receiving jokes, for example, but don't care for messages with spiritual overtones; still others enjoy receiving religious or inspirational emails but can do without humor or political messages. Many folks chafe at emails that promise money or good luck or the granting of a wish if forwarded to a minimum number of friends and threaten all manner of bad fortune if deleted. And those who don't mind getting jokes may be offended by dirty ones. DO ask before placing anybody on your email forwarding list. In a nutshell - know your audience.

DON'T forward emails containing supposed news items, scams, virus alerts, outrages, or proposed business/product boycotts without first checking their validity. There are hundreds of such emails making their way around the Net, gobbling up bandwidth, clogging up inboxes, and, basically, wasting people's precious time, because many are simply not true. DO check, the urban myth-busting website, before hitting your forward button. Snopes has a search feature that lets you enter a keyword or two and get the skinny on the origins of and facts on these supposed warnings and news reports.

DON'T use the "To" field for multiple recipients. If you are planning to send an email to several people, unless everybody knows each other (and one another's email addresses), a good practice is to "blind copy" everyone. DO make use of the "Bcc" field. You can use your own email address as the main destination, if you wish, or just leave it blank, and enter all of the recipients' email addresses in the "Bcc" field. Each person who receives the email will see only your email address as the sender, and the text "Undisclosed Recipients" as the receiver if you left the "To" field blank. This gets your email to those in your various social circles while preserving everybody's privacy.

DON'T use the "reply all" feature to respond to senders who violate the foregoing. This will only perpetuate the problem. DO reply only to the sender, especially if you are responding with an issue or complaint. It's much nicer that way.

DON'T forward emails without first deleting all extraneous info - prior recipients/comments/threads - from previous forwards. Leaving the email addresses of prior recipients intact violates their privacy; not to mention the fact that it's cumbersome for the new recipients to have to scroll down past previous headers and other text in order to get to the message. DO highlight all text that appears above the message you're forwarding and use your delete button to eliminate it. Or, better still, if the email is text only, highlight and copy the message and paste it into a brand-new email for your peeps. (Unfortunately, highlighting and copying generally doesn't work well for emails containing images. So please take an extra thirty seconds or so and get rid of all the previous headers. Your friends will thank you for it.)

DON'T forward emails containing embedded images without first checking that the images are showing up properly. It's very annoying to receive an email with little red x's appearing where pictures should be. Some email programs suppress embedded graphics or convert them to attachments. Or one or more image files may simply not display once the forward button is clicked on, resulting in placeholders with the little red x's. DO take a moment to make a visual scan of the email, after hitting the forward button but prior to clicking on "send," to ensure that all the images included in the original message are still there, and delete any placeholders or greyed-out areas. If any of the "missing" images contain text or are otherwise significant to the extent that their absence leaves a gap in the message, please refrain from forwarding it.

As with forwards, when sending original emails, DON'T include unnecessary recipients. DO ensure that anyone you plan on sending the email to needs to know, or has an interest in, the topic you're addressing. This goes for replying to original emails, too; exercise discretion when choosing between the "reply" and "reply all" features. (If you want only select recipients to see your reply, you can either add those email addresses manually after hitting your "reply" button, or delete the unneeded emails after selecting "reply all.")

Finally, DON'T TYPE IN ALL CAPS. This is considered shouting. Putting a word or two in all capital letters (as with these do's and don'ts) is fine for emphasis, or to illustrate a point, but, for the majority of the text, DO use upper and lower case properly.

Upcoming blog post: Why relying solely on your spell checker is not a good idea.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Andy Kim: "Love Is" Video to Benefit Red Cross

Further to my post of Tuesday, January 19th ... World-renowned singer-songwriter Andy Kim ("Rock Me Gently") has put together a powerful music video for YouTube, which features his new recording, "Love Is," playing against a backdrop of photos from the earthquake devastation in Haiti.  E1 Music (Canada) is donating the YouTube revenue share to the Red Cross.

The video is embedded below - or you can view the video on YouTube if you prefer, in order to rate the video and leave a comment.

This moving, exquisitely produced presentation is a visual reminder of the death, destruction, injury and homelessness that the citizens of Haiti are facing.  Please consider making a monetary donation to the Red Cross if you have not done so already - either by web, or by texting the word Haiti to 90999 (the $10.00 donation will be added to your cell phone bill).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Red Cross Giving Aid to Haiti After Quake

On January 12, 2010, a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the country of Haiti, destroying its capital city, Port-au-Prince, and resulting in the destruction of thousands of homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals.  As many as 200,000 people may have been killed in the quake, with millions more injured and/or homeless.

The American Red Cross is accepting donations to help with relief efforts.  Making a donation is fast and easy and can be accomplished either online or via cell phone.  To donate $10.00 using your cell phone, just text the word Haiti to 90999; this amount will be added to your cell phone bill.  To donate any amount (minimum $10.00) online, visit

While not everybody is in a position to donate large sums of money, especially in today's economy, please try to give what you can.  Even a donation of $10.00 (which is the approximate cost of two fast-food meals) will help, as the donations add up.  Whether or not you are able to donate, please pass along this info to your friends and those on your email list.

Let us keep the citizens of Haiti in our thoughts and prayers.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Problem is Worse Than Yours

Some people spend most of their lives playing a spirited game of "My Problem is Worse Than Yours." These are people who compulsively try to top every problem, illness or situation about which others confide to them.  If you're having financial problems, their own finances are worse.  If you're sick, they're sicker.  Or they will even change the topic entirely in order to shift the focus of the conversation to themselves - whichever scenario or malady is applicable to them - the gist being that they're much worse off than you are and that you're lucky not to have their problems.  This is not done to make you realize that there are indeed people who are less fortunate than you but to center the conversation around themselves.  Such people do not make good friends because they are not good listeners - they're so busy thinking about what they're going to say next that they barely hear what you're saying - and lack the ability to sympathize or empathize (although their responses may seem like empathy at first, but that's why it's easy to fall into their traps).  More often than not, their "victims" will leave the conversation feeling worse than when they came into it.  If you know such a person, try not to complain about your problems in front of him or her, no matter how serious, because you'll end up aggravated rather than soothed. If you need to vent, it's much better to try and find a truly sympathetic ear.  And maybe find better friends in the process.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Success vs. Failure

It is said that we can learn much from our failures, but I'm not entirely convinced of that.  From a practical standpoint, all we can definitively learn from our failures is what NOT to do.  It isn't always as simple as merely doing the opposite of what it was that resulted in the failure, because sometimes there are many different choices as to which path to take, and only one correct path.  I think we learn much more from our successes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fairness vs. Kindness

Fairness doesn't always equate to kindness. Being fair does not necessarily mean being kind - and the reverse is true as well. Sometimes, to be fair to one person, one must be unkind to another. Sometimes, to be kind to one person, one must be unfair to another. The occasional bending (or breaking) of rules to give someone a break, or the blowing off of a previously made appointment in order to help a friend in need, may not technically be "fair" but are certainly worthy of commendation. Conversely, making somebody unhappy while maintaining over and over, albeit truthfully, that one acted fairly is hardly a noble course of action. Whenever possible, choose kindness over fairness.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

One Secret to Success

Successful people don't get that way by accident, or even solely by hard work - they become successful by having generous natures and good hearts, giving more than what's expected of them, being compassionate, and appreciating all of their blessings even if their lives aren't perfect. Complaining only brings you more to complain about, and failing to appreciate what you already have blocks the blessings.