E-mail – II

Reaching Across the Globe Faster – Part II


E-mail – Advantages & Disadvantages
E-mail Ethics
Some useful E-mail services


It is difficult sometimes to comprehend all the benefits and values of electronic-communications technology. There is now access 24 hours a day from anywhere in the world to endless amounts of data and information. Global communication is easier. The technology also has opened the door for more types of professionals to work at home, because they can still tap into corporate information. Thus, work can now be done anywhere a computer can be plugged in.

But there is a dark side to the technology. First, it has created an information overload. People are swamped by junk mail and finding what is relevant and need to be read from the hundreds of mails that one receive can become a daunting task.

Second, the very existence of electronic communication has perpetuated the myth that it will lead to better communication. But that not true, if you are not a good communicator without electronic technology, you won’t become a good communicator just because you use the technology. Technology improves our ability to communicate, it extends the reach of our communications, and it can reduce long-distance communications timelines, but it is the individual using the technology that makes the communications better or worse.

Another disadvantage of the e-mail is that it can become a distraction and can prevent people from doing any productive work. To work more productively and to prevent e-mail interruptions you can do the following:

  • If the mail is automatically delivered to your mailbox, shut off the computer beep that alerts you when you have an incoming message.
  • If your mail does not come to your in-box and you have to check for your mail by connecting to the mail server, then do it during non-peak hours, when you will get connected immediately.
  • Compose your messages off-line, this will save on-line time and you will get a chance to review the mail.
  • Tell your friends and colleagues what type of documents you want to receive and what you don’t.
  • And remember, Don’t let technology wipe out oral communication!!!!


When we talk with people face-to-face, our body language, the tone of our voice and our facial expressions impart great meaning to what we say. On-line, you can personalize your messages by using smileys or emoticons (on-line emotions). You create smileys by typing characters from your keyboard. You’d be amazed at the range of emotions these little characters can express. Some of the very popular ones are given below, but you can get a comprehensive list of smileys from the many sites on the internet like Smilies Smiley Emoticons (www.clicksmilies.com/), Emoticons 4 U (www.emoticons4u.com/), etc.

  • 🙂 Happy
  • 🙁 Sad
  • 😮 Surprised
  • :-@ Screaming
  • :-I Indifferent
  • :-e Disappointed
  • >:-< Mad
  • 😀 Laughing
  • 😉 Wink

In addition to smileys, here are a few common abbreviations you can use:

  • Bye For Now
  • By The Way
  • Grin
  • Hope This Helps
  • I Just Want To Know
  • I Just Want To Say
  • In My Humble Opinion
  • Laughing Out Loud
  • On The Other Hand
  • Rolling on the Floor Laughing
  • Thanks In Advance


Like any form of communication, there are certain manners that you should follow when using the e-mail. Here are some guidelines which will help in getting the most out of your electronic mailing system:

  • Know your recipient. Different people have different ideas of what is acceptable. Find out and respect each person’s wishes.
  • Avoid sarcasm, unless you’re sure it will work, and think very carefully before using e-mail to express anger. With e-mail, once it’s sent, it’s gone.
  • Be careful about your use of irony or even some forms of humor, which can be misinterpreted. Unlike face-to-face meetings or phone conversations, there are no visual or oral clues to provide a sense of what is going on.
  • Be succinct and considerate of the recipient’s time and on-line charges, especially with services that charge by the hour or by the size of messages. E-mail messages work best if they’re short and to the point.
  • If you are sending large files as attachments, use some compression utility like pkzip, before sending them.
  • Don’t send copies of e-mail to people unless they need to be copied. In addition to cluttering up their mailboxes, it can place them in an awkward position, making them feel as if they have to do something with the information. It also can be intimidating to the main recipient.
  • Stay on the topic if you’re posting to a public bulletin board, forum or news group. Most are focused on a specific topic, and messages that stray too far from the topic can be annoying.
  • Briefly describe who you are if the recipient doesn’t already know.
  • Be aware that e-mail can be archived and, under certain circumstances, may not be secure. On-line services and public e-mail providers protect the confidentiality of their subscribers’ e-mail, but some companies consider employee e-mail sent over the office network to be company property and subject to scrutiny.
  • Avoid “Urgent” or “Priority” unless it really is.
  • Employ capital letters sparingly. Using them for an entire message is the electronic equivalent to SHOUTING, and is it is also harder to read.
  • You should check your mail regularly. Unlike a fax or normal mail, an e-mail message in most cases is not automatically delivered to your desk. You have to log on to check your mail.


Have you ever wanted your personal email ID? You can have your personal e-mail account free of cost. All you need to access your mail box is an Internet connection. There are several companies which offers this service, absolutely free, all you have to do is register, choose an email ID, give a password. You can access these mail boxes from anywhere, provided you have an Internet connection. Some of the sites which offers this service are Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Rediff Mail, etc.

Another useful service is a permanent email address. This is for the people who needs to change their e-mail IDs frequently. The service is basically a message forwarding facility. You can choose an e-mail address and specify the address to which the messages are to be forwarded. So whenever your e-mail ID changes, you go to the site of the service provider and change the forwarding address. Some of the sites which offers these facility are PO Box, iNAme, etc.

Yet another service which is useful is the e-minder (e-mail reminder) facility. You just have to give your e-mail ID and when you want a reminder e-mail sent. You will be reminded automatically. This is also a service which is absolutely free. You can avail this service from Memo to Me, RemberIt, etc.

Happy e-mailing :-).

Alexis Leon, DQ Week Madras, 21st April 1997.

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