I have received several emails asking for my advice and help in matters that are purely up to discretion. Email Etiquette is basically a list of suggested guidelines. The intent is to make your email communications more effective and enjoyable.
But only if you actively implement those guidelines.
Discretion requires thinking things out — before reacting. And that, my friends, is difficult for many.
Being online for 25 years and emailing more than most, it is clear just as in the off-line world, that you cannot control others behavior. Nor can you control whether they have or will use their discretion in their online activities.
- Freedom to act or judge on one’s own
- Knowing how to avoid embarrassment or distress
- Refined taste; tact
- The power of making free choices unconstrained by external agencies
- The trait of judging wisely and objectively
Consequently, based on the above, one can easily surmise how much discretion comes into play when it comes to your email activities. Just a few examples off the top of my head of not using discretion properly:
- Forwarding a private email sent to you to others from someone who trusts you without the sender’s knowledge.
- Forwarding “warm and fuzzy” emails that state to “Send to Everyone You Know” with email addresses exposed in the To: field.
- Sending large attachments without the courtesy of asking first.
- Sending emails filled with caps and bolded red words assuming intent.
- Not showing any courtesy or humanity in communications by just demanding what you want.
How to Use Your Discretion
When it comes to discretion, I do believe that those who fail to use their discretionary powers reap negative results. So what can you do to use your power of discretion more effectively?
- Read the email you are responding to out loud to make sure you are interpreting intent and tone correctly.
- When upset, read your response out loud before clicking send.
- Refrain from formatting to relay emotion. Instead choose your words wisely.
Let others use of discretion or lack thereof speak for themselves. Above all, the only one you can control is you.