I've had about 3 or 4 different rants bouncing around in my head for the last week. Each of them is equally worthy of space on my blog as a means to explore the issues affecting the world around me. I had high hopes of imparting my opinions about the American health care crisis, the impending anti-war rally that is taking place in DC this weekend, Iran and their fruitbasket president, and the massive aid donation made to Lebanon yesterday. Sadly, all of these pressing situations have been overshadowed by my burning desire to teach all 2000 people employed by my firm worldwide the basics of email etiquette.
Let me preface this by saying that I truly feel for those members of our society who woke up one morning and were caught completely off guard by this revolutionary thing called "the Internet". I know it's been a tremendous shock to the many people who have been forced to learn the ins and outs of all things Yahoo!, YouTube and Google. I see firsthand the havoc that AOL can wreck upon people of my mother's generation. It's heartbreaking. Really, it is.
The funny thing is, most people who don't know how to use the Internet well, like my mother, stay about as far away from it as humanly possible. And then there are the people I work with. While I generally don't advocate an isolationist approach to modern technology, I feel justified in this situation based on the sheer fact that small test group I am exposed to every day from 8 to 6 seems incapable of grasping the basic concept of Outlook.
As a favor to me and the rest of the thinking, functioning world, please exercise something resembling judgement if and when you feel compelled to send emails to others while in the workplace. If you learn nothing else today, please remember that it is important to consider your audience when corresponding via email, especially if that audience happens to be your entire behemoth of a firm - partners, associates, contractors and all.
A corollary to this principle : If you're making an inane comment to the secretary around the corner from you, are too lazy to get up and actually speak to her, yet feel compelled to send her an email, it might be best to start with a fresh email (you can find this under the "New" tab at the top of your Outlook screen) rather than simply hitting "Reply All". By recycling old correspondence that was initally directed to the entire *expletive* firm, you not only create a 2 hour long spam session consisting of "Why am I on this email string?" emails from other employees around the world, you also run the risk of letting everyone around you in on the secret that you really are THAT inept.