What Strategies Can You Use To Ensure Ease Of Reading In Your Emails And Other Digital Communications?

Please use this as textbook reference. Cardon, P. (2013). Business communication: Developing leaders for a networked world. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin


3 apa references.



1.A. What strategies can you use to ensure ease of reading in your emails and other digital communications?

B. What strategies can you use to show respect for the time of others?
C. Explain the neutrality effect and negativity effect in digital communications.


2.Compare the less-effective and more-effective emails in Figures 7.1 and 7.2 in the following ways:

A. Analyze the writing for each email based on tone, style, or design.
B. Evaluate them based on three principles for effective emails from this chapter.

3.Assume you lost your temper when discussing a group project with one of your classmates. You left the meeting early because you were frustrated that your classmate insisted on doing everything his way. You still feel that he is dominating the project, but your behavior was inappropriate. Write an apology to your classmate in a way that repairs some of the damage between the two of you and allows the group to work more effectively together.


4.Analyze the Better Horizons flyer ( Figure 9.6 ) in the following ways:

A. Which psychological tools of influence (consistency, reciprocation, social proof, authority, liking, scarcity) does it use? Provide examples.
B. What emotional appeals are used? What about logical appeals? Would you consider this messages as catering more to emotion or logic? Explain.
C. Do you consider this message warm and inviting?
D. Do you consider this sales message plausible?
E. Do you consider this sales message respectful?
F. Do you trust this message?
G. What are two changes you think could be made to improve its effectiveness?



Assume you own a computer retail store located near your campus (give the store any name you want). You have sold fewer PCs in recent years due to the strong demand for Macs among university students. You will write a sales letter to reach all student housing units. Your goal is to encourage students to purchase PCs at your store. You can do online research to help you contrast PCs with Macs and identify pricing levels. In the sales letter, attempt to show students the advantages of PCs compared to Macs and get them to take specific steps to learn more about or even purchase a PC at your store.


After studying this chapter, you should be able to do the following:

LO7.1 Apply principles for writing effective emails.

LO7.2 Explain how to handle emotion effectively in online communications.

LO7.3 Describe strategies for managing digital message overload.

LO7.4 Explain characteristics of the emerging Social Age.

LO7.5 Apply principles of effective social media use in professional settings.

LO7.6 Build a credible online reputation.

LO7.7 Describe the ethical use of social media for work.

Learning Objectives

Email and Social Media for Business Communication

C h

a p

t er

S ev


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For nearly two decades, email has been the primary written business communication tool. In Table 7.1 , you can see that in a recent study, it ranked second in effectiveness among communication channels for coordinating work. 1 Even with so many emerging communication tools, email remains the channel of choice . 2 Writing emails will likely consume much of your time early in your career. One study showed that corporate employees spend 25 percent of their days on email- related tasks. By comparison, they spend 14 percent of their time in personal meet- ings and 9 percent of their time in phone conversations. 3 Another study found that corporate workers average 14.5 hours per week reading and responding to email. 4 The number of emails that business profes- sionals deal with is astound- ing; the average business professional receives 58 le- gitimate (non-spam) emails per day and writes 33. By 2015, business profession- als are projected to receive 71 emails per day and write 41. 5 Emails, however, are not efficient for all types of writ- ten communication. Typically, email is most appropriate for private communication. For team and networked commu- nication, social media tools such as blogs and wikis are generally more efficient (see Chapter 2 for distinctions between private, team, and net- worked communication). Many businesses are now adopting social media (often used nearly synonymously with terms such as Web 2.0 , Enterprise 2.0, social networking , social software , and a variety of other terms) for internal use; however, these tools still account for a small percentage of business communication. This will change rapidly over the next decade. Some analysts project that social media tools will dominate busi- ness communication by the year 2020. 6 In this chapter we first focus on email in the workplace. Then, we discuss the evolv- ing adoption of social media tools, which is transforming work culture into the Social Age. Next, we describe how blogs, wikis, and other social media tools are being used. We conclude with sections about managing your online reputation and using social media ethically. Examples throughout the chapter come from the chapter case about the Prestigio Hotel. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with this case prior to reading the remainder of the chapter.

? TABLE 7.1

Most Effective Communication Channels for Coordinating Work

Skills Percentage of Business


1. Scheduled meetings

2. Email

3. Landline phone

4. Cell phone

5. File sharing

6. Informal conversations

7. Texting

8. Instant messaging

9. Private messages on social networking platforms

10. Group messages on social networking platforms











Source: Peter W. Cardon, Melvin Washington, Ephraim A. Okoro, Bryan Marshall, and Nipul Patel, “Cross-Generational Perspectives on How Mobile Phone Use for Texting and Calling Infl uences Work Outcomes and Work Relationships,” pre- sented at the Association for Business Communication Southeast Conference, Charleston, South Carolina, April 1, 2011. Note: Percentages based on the number of business professionals who rated communication channel as effective or extremely effective in their current jobs.

Hear Pete Cardon explain why this



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178 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

Chapter Case: Communicating with Emails and Social Media at the Prestigio Hotel

Who’s Involved

Andrea Garcia, general manager

Nancy Jeffreys, director of marketing

Jeff Anderton, marketing assistant

Kip Yamada, marketing associate

Barbara Brookshire, director of conventions

Marketing Team

Situation 1

Situation 2

Situation 3

Barbara Uses Emails with Clients to Establish Terms Barbara leads efforts to negotiate contract terms for conferences. Generally, representatives of busi- nesses and other organizations contact Barbara by phone or email. After an initial phone consulta- tion and an on-site visit with potential clients, Barbara handles most of the marketing and negotiation by email. Before a deal is done, she typically sends and receives 20 emails with any given client to respond to questions and concerns and to finalize terms of the agreement.

Nancy and Kip Handle a Delicate Situation by Email Nancy, the director of marketing, and Kip, a marketing associate, recently had a conflict that gener- ated hard feelings. Nancy harshly criticized Kip for making what she believed were unauthorized

refunds to some business travelers. Kip thought Nancy was unjustified. After several months of not working well together, they aired their grievances to one another. Nevertheless, Kip still had some unresolved issues and decided to send a quick email to Nancy expressing his feelings about the conversation.

The Marketing Team Adopts Social Media for Team Communication The entire marketing team has recently started using enterprise social software (which functions in many ways like Facebook but is customized for use within an organization). The team is using blogs, wikis, and other tools to follow up with one another related to action items agreed on in meetings, discuss ongoing projects and campaigns, and update one another about their accomplishments.

Task 1 How will Barbara

manage emails to show professionalism and

increase her likelihood of success with prospects?

(See the section on creating effective emails.)

Task 3 How will the marketing

team use social media to work more efficiently together?

(See “Internal Communication Tools for the Social Age.”)

Task 2 How will Kip compose an email in an emotionally charged situation? How

will Nancy respond? (See the “Manage Emotion and Maintain Civility”


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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 179

Creating Effective Emails Email communication is the primary form of written business communication. Most analysts expect it to be the primary tool for at least the next five to ten years in most companies. 7 Some forward-thinking companies are increasingly adopting social net- working platforms (SNPs) for employee communication (discussed later); however, even in companies that adopt these SNPs, employees will continue to use private elec- tronic messages within these platforms, which function nearly identically to emails. Furthermore, many of your colleagues, clients, and other contacts will likely prefer to use email systems for many years to come.

Writing effective emails involves applying the principles of writing style that we discussed in Chapters 5 and 6. It also involves adapting to the unique characteristics of email. In this section, we explain basic principles for using emails effectively, includ- ing the basic components that ensure ease of reading. Then, we focus on managing emotion and maintaining civility in electronic communications.

Use Email for the Right Purposes Email is easy and convenient. Before quickly sending out an email, however, consider whether it is the best communication channel for your work purposes.

Since emails are not rich—meaning lacking in virtually all verbal and nonverbal cues associated with face-to-face communication and lacking immediate feedback— they are best suited for routine, task-oriented, fact-based, and nonsensitive messages. 8 Communication specialist Alan Murray, in a Wall Street Journal article called “Should I Use Email?” explained:

To avoid miscommunication, we suggest a simple rule: Email can be used effectively as a means to pass on straight facts, or to provide praise and encouragement. But it shouldn’t be used to chastise, scold, or deliver bad news. If the message you are delivering is a discouraging one, it’s best to deliver it in person. 9

Email communication has few constraints (low cost, little coordination) and high control (the writer can think them out carefully, and they provide a permanent record). Yet because it is not a rich form of communication, it is rarely appropriate for sensitive or emotional communication tasks. It is also inefficient for facilitating discussions.

Ensure Ease of Reading In all written communication, ensuring ease of reading is critical. It is even more criti- cal in emails and other digital messages. Simply put, your readers are unlikely to read your message unless you make it easy for them. Compare the ease of reading in the less-effective and more-effective examples of emails in Figures 7.1 and 7.2 . Think about how quickly a reader can process the information. Also, use the following tips to ensure ease of reading in your emails.

Provide a Short, Descriptive Subject Line Message recipients make im- mediate judgments about the importance of a message based on the subject line. If it is not clear and compelling, recipients may not open the message right away. Further- more, when business professionals search for prior email messages, they often scan the subject lines in their in-boxes. Without a descriptive subject line, they may miss the message. Good subject lines are generally five to ten words long. By contrast, poor sub- jects are either too short (1 or 2 words) and thus nondescriptive or too long (12 words or longer) and thus difficult to process. Fundamentally, subject lines frame your entire message; they serve the same role that headlines do in newspapers and magazines.

Keep Your Message Brief Yet Complete Get to the point within three or four sentences, and keep your paragraphs about half the size of those in business

LO7.1 Apply principles for writing effective emails.

Principles of Effective Emails

• Use for the right purposes.

• Ensure ease of reading.

• Show respect for time.

• Protect privacy and confidentiality.

• Respond promptly. • Maintain

professionalism and appropriate formality.

• Manage emotion effectively.

• Avoid distractions.

Components of Effective Emails

• Subject line • Greeting* • Message • Closing* • Signature block* • Attachments* * optional

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180 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

documents—ideally 30 to 50 words long. Consider placing the most critical informa- tion at the beginning so readers gather the most relevant information immediately. This is an important strategy, since most people are so inundated with messages that they often pay more attention to the beginning, skimming or skipping latter portions. This is especially important as business professionals increasingly use mobile devices.

Clearly Identify Expected Actions Most emails are intended to spur ac- tion. Effective emails contain specific and clear requests so that recipients know ex- actly how to respond. In many cases, you can place these directions in the subject line for greatest clarity.

Provide a Descriptive Signature Block Signature blocks should provide clear contact information. This allows recipients to easily contact you through richer communication channels if needed. It also enhances your professional image.

Use Attachments Wisely Attachments allow business professionals to share files that do not display effectively in an email window. Messages that are more than several paragraphs long are typically appropriate as attachments. Also, pictures and other graphics, spreadsheets, databases, and many other types of files are nearly al- ways more appropriate as attachments. However, be careful about sending attachments that are too large, since they may fill others’ email boxes.

Show Respect for Others’ Time Since email communication is so convenient, some people overuse and even abuse it. With business professionals sending and receiving hundreds of emails each week, they often experience information overload and email fatigue. Every time you write an email, you might want to envision your colleagues and clients who are receiving them. Imagine their time pressures and the line of emails awaiting their response. Assume they will likely have low tolerance for poorly written, sloppy, unclear emails.

Nondescriptive subject line

Nondescriptive document name

Poorly spaced, cluttered text

Unhelpful signature block

Unprofessional tagline


Less-Effective Email

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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 181

Clear, detailed subject line

Clearly labeled document

Pleasant opening

Complete, professional signature line

Pleasant closing

Numbered format leads to rapid processing of information

References to details and specific locations in the attachment lead to rapid and complete processing


More-Effective Email

In the business world, where time pressures can be overwhelming, you can engen- der goodwill by writing emails that are professional, relevant, easy to read, and other- oriented. To show your respect for others when sending email, consider the following advice.

Select Message Recipients Carefully Before sending an email, think about the workload you are creating for your colleagues or other message recipients. Not only do they commit time to reading your email, but they also often interrupt an- other work task to do so. If you are requesting information or action, your colleagues are further committed in terms of time. So, make sure the email is necessary and rel- evant for each of your message recipients.

Provide Timelines and Options If you use email to coordinate tasks with deadlines, provide detailed information about time frames and your availabilities. If you are setting up appointments, make sure you have provided several options. By

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182 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

clearly providing timelines and schedules, you minimize the number of emails needed to coordinate your efforts, thus saving time. By providing options, you show respect for your colleagues’ schedules.

Be Careful about Using the Priority Flag You will routinely make re- quests of others that are time-sensitive. If you too often set the priority flag on such emails, your colleagues may become annoyed, perceiving you as pushy. In fact, some business professionals are more likely to ignore emails when the priority flag is set. If you need something urgently, mention it politely in the subject line or use a rich com- munication channel such as a phone call to gain buy-in.

Let Others Know When You Will Take Longer Than Anticipated to Respond or Take Action If you can’t respond to a request made in an email, reply immediately and explain how soon you can respond in full. You might use phrases such as “I will respond to your email by next Tuesday,” or “I can take care of this by the end of next week.”

Avoid Contributing to Confusing and Repetitive Email Chains Email chains are groups of emails that are sent back and forth among a group of people. As the number of messages and people involved in an email chain increases, confusion can build. Consider the following complaint of a business professional:

One of my biggest pet peeves has to do with forwards. My company will often send out a corporate email to the all-hands list, then a program manager will forward that email to the same all-hands list “in case you didn’t get this,” then the department head will forward the same email back to the same all-hands list “in case you didn’t get this.” Often another layer or two of management feels compelled to forward the same email down to their organizational levels for the same reason. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I often have to delete the same email five or six times! Please, if you’re in the habit of forwarding announcements for “FYI” reasons, pay attention to which lists you’re forwarding to and which people are already on those lists. 10

Three features contribute to email chains: forward, copy, and reply to all . The for- ward feature allows you to send any message you receive to others with the click of the mouse. As always, make sure that those you are forwarding the message to need to see the email. Also, consider whether the original sender would consider it appropriate for you to forward the email to others; after all, he or she did not place those people on the original email. Similarly, many business professionals consider use of the blind carbon copy feature a breach of privacy. Furthermore, the ease of forwarding and copying can create other problems. Once you send an email, you have no control over whether oth- ers will forward it, and to whom, which leads to a good standard articulated by Tony DiRomualdo, strategy and IT researcher: “Don’t say anything you would not want the entire planet to read at some point.” 11

Many business professionals use the copy feature liberally to let everyone in a de- partment or work unit in on the conversation. Of course, one of your goals is transpar- ency, allowing others in your relevant work group to know how decisions are being made. But copying too many people can lead to information overload. Furthermore, copying too many people on an email can dilute responsibility. When five or six people receive an email about accomplishing a specific task, uncertainty may arise about ex- actly who is supposed to do what. The more people you copy, the less likely you will get a response. Also, some people perceive copying a direct supervisor or boss on emails between peers as a subtle power play. 12

The reply to all feature can contribute to confusing email chains in many of the same ways as the forward and copy features. In an email conversation of more than four or five people, various message recipients can lose track of the sequence of messages or miss some messages altogether. Reply email chains become especially confusing when

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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 183

some colleagues are using just the reply feature whereas others are using the reply to all feature. One advantage of team blogs and wikis in the workplaces is that they remove some of the inefficiencies and confusion of email chains by placing messages and shared content in a central location rather than in various, separate email boxes.

Protect Privacy and Confidentiality Be careful about not spreading—purposely or inadvertently—sensitive or confidential information. Since emails are so convenient to send, even the rare mistake in an ad- dress line can result in damaging professional consequences. Consider, for example, that eight out of ten marketing and advertising executives say they have made mistakes via email, such as sending job offers to the wrong people or revealing confidential salary information to the entire company. 13 Double-checking that you have placed the correct people in the address line before you hit the send button is a worthwhile habit that requires just a few extra moments.

Respond Promptly Most business professionals expect fast responses to emails. Of course, what seems like a quick response to one person seems like a delayed response to another. One re- cent study of business professionals found that nearly all business professionals expect an email response within one day (see Figure 7.3 ). 14 Younger professionals are more likely to expect a response immediately. The majority of business professionals in all age groups expect a response within one to two hours. If you choose not to check your email more than a few times a day (a strategy recommended later in the chapter), let others know how soon to expect replies.

Maintain Professionalism and Appropriate Formality Email communication is typically considered fairly formal. Many business profes- sionals are particularly sensitive to “sloppy” email. Management consultant Beverly Langford reported what thousands of business leaders have observed about an overly casual attitude toward email use:

Many people seem to forget that email is, in fact, written communication, and, consequently, treat it much less carefully. Workplace email messages often contain terse and offhand remarks and project a flippant attitude that is sometimes excessive, even bordering on the unprofessional. Those who write the emails often seem to be overlooking how their


Appropriate Response Time to Emails Source: Peter W. Cardon, Melvin Washington, Ephraim A. Okoro, Bryan Marshall, and Nipul Patel, “Cross-Generational Perspectives on How Mobile Phone Use for Texting and Calling Influences Work Outcomes and Work Relationships,” presented at the Association for Business Com- munication Southeast Conference , Charleston, South Carolina, April 1, 2011.



41–50A g

e G

ro up


0 25 50 75 100

Percentage of Business Professionals

Immediately Within 1 hour Within 2 hours Within a day

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184 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

message is coming across to the receiver. Further, when composing emails, many people don’t seem to be nearly as concerned with structure and correctness as they would be when putting something on paper. This . . . is ironic because often many more people see an email than would ever see a hard copy of a memo or letter because it’s so easy for the recipient to forward an email to anyone he or she chooses. 15

Unfortunately, since so many more people can potentially see an email than would ever see a hard copy of a message, having high standards is even more important. In the past few years, a preference has emerged for less formal, stuffy writing. Still, you’ll want to achieve a balance between formality and the friendliness associated with casual writing. Generally, you are better off erring on the side of too much formality as opposed to too much casualness. Consider the following recommendations.

Avoid Indications That You View Email as Casual Communication Certain casual ways of writing and formatting appear unprofessional—for example, using all lowercase letters or nonstandard spelling (i.e., hey barbara, how r u ), using excessive formatting (i.e., flashy background colors, unusual fonts), providing extra- neous information in the signature line (i.e., favorite quotations), and typing in all caps (IMPLIES ANGER). Humor and sarcasm, too, can be misinterpreted in digital com- munications, even among close colleagues. Furthermore, even when considered funny, it can draw attention away from your central message.

Apply the Same Standards of Spelling, Punctuation, and For- matting You Would for Other Written Documents Carefully review your message for typos, spelling, punctuation, or grammatical problems before send- ing it. For important messages, consider first composing with word processing soft- ware. This will help you apply a higher level of seriousness. In addition, you’ll be able to use spell-check and grammar-check features that are more reliable than those within email systems. Finally, you can ensure that you do not inadvertently send the message without making sure it is polished and complete.

Use Greetings and Names Although not technically required, consider using short greetings and the names of your message recipients. As one of Dale Carnegie’s most famous pieces of networking advice goes, “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest most important sound in any language.” 16 This advice applies to most communication situations, including emails. People leave out names in emails for several reasons. Some professionals view the use of greetings and names as exces- sively formal, resembling letters. Other professionals view emails as the equivalent of memos. In fact, the layout of most emails—with a recipient line, sender line, and subject line—resembles memos. Traditionally, the format for memos calls for omitting a personal greeting and name.

In a recent study, a communication researcher was given access to the emails in two organizations. One was a low-morale organization and one was a high-morale organization. She found that the presence or absence of greetings and names at the beginning of emails was a strong indicator of company climate (see Figure 7.4 ). 17 In the low-morale organization, just 20 percent of the emails contained greetings, and just 36 percent contained names. By contrast, in the high-morale organization, 58 percent contained greetings, and 78 percent contained names. The same trend was shown in closings. In the low-morale organization, just 23 percent of the emails contained a po- lite closing and a name compared to 73 percent in the high-morale organization.

The conventions of using greetings and names are sometimes dropped as an email chain emerges and functions much like a conversation. Typically, feelers (those with the strongest people-orientation) show a stronger preference for greetings and names. If you’re having an ongoing email exchange with a feeler and you notice that he or she is using a formal greeting in each email, consider reciprocating. On the other hand, if you’re a feeler and like to see greetings and names in every email but your colleagues

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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 185

are not doing so, avoid getting hung up on it. Assume that they view emails much like memos or that they view excessive use of greetings and names in back-and-forth email chains as repetitive and unnecessary.

Manage Emotion and Maintain Civility Many managers cite the lack of emotion in emails as positive. They see email as a channel that allows the exchange of messages in minimal form—objective, task-based, and straightforward. As one manager explained, “With email I find myself answering without all the kindness necessary to keep people happy with their job.” 18

Yet, avoiding emotion entirely, even for task-based messages, is nearly impossible. Business professionals often want to invoke some emotion—perhaps enthusiasm or a sense of urgency. Even when senders intend to convey a relatively nonemotional mes- sage, recipients may experience an emotional reaction.

In the absence of face-to-face communications, emails tend to elicit either the neu- trality effect or the negativity effect. The neutrality effect means that recipients are more likely to perceive messages with an intended positive emotion as neutral. That is, the sender may wish to express enthusiasm about an event, but the receiver decodes the information without “hearing” the enthusiasm. 19 The negativity effect means that recipients are more likely to perceive messages that are intended as neutral as nega- tive. 20 The effects of emotional inaccuracy due to the neutrality and negativity effects can lead to conflict escalation, confusion, and anxiety. 21 Expert business communica- tors remain aware of these tendencies.

Two characteristics of asynchronous electronic communications can lead to feel- ings of anger and frustration more so than in face-to-face communications. First, peo- ple often feel comfortable writing things they would not say in person. In some cases, this sense of online freedom leads to flames, which are emails or other digital commu- nications with “hostile intentions characterized by words of profanity, obscenity, and insults that inflict harm to a person or an organization.” 22

The second aspect of asynchronous electronic communications that can lead to anger and frustration is cyber silence, which is nonresponse to emails and other com- munications. During the nonresponse stage, message senders often misattribute expla- nations for the silence. They sometimes wonder if message recipients are purposely avoiding or even ignoring them. 23 As the length of time between messages increases, they often experience more frustration and anger. 24

As a message sender, grant the benefit of the doubt to your recipients when re- sponses take longer than you expected. Instead of getting frustrated, consider giving them a phone call. Keep in mind that they may have different expectations about a

LO7.2 Explain how to handle emotion effectively in online communications.


Use of Email Greetings and Names in a Low-Morale and a High-Morale Organization Source: Data from Joan Waldvogel, “Greetings and Closings in Workplace Email,” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12, no. 2 (2007).




0 No

Greeting Greeting

Word Only



5 5

21 25



Name Only

Greeting Word + Name

P er

ce nt

ag e

of E

m ai


Low-morale organization High-morale organization

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186 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

reasonable time frame to respond to your email. If they routinely take longer than you expect, politely mention that you would appreciate quicker responses.

In Chapter 2, we discussed the importance of civility. Civility is likewise important in electronic communication. Cyber incivility is the violation of respect and consid- eration in an online environment based on workplace norms. Research has shown that “fast-paced, high-tech interactions may add to incivility, as people believe that they do not have time to be ‘nice’ and that impersonal contacts [such as electronic communica- tions] do not require courteous interaction.” 25

Shockingly, recent research shows that 91 percent of employees reported experienc- ing either active or passive cyber incivility from supervisors in the workplace. 26 Active incivility involves direct forms of disrespect (i.e., being condescending, demeaning, saying something hurtful). Passive incivility involves indirect forms of disrespect (i.e., using emails for time-sensitive messages, not acknowledging receipt of emails, not re- plying to emails). Cyber incivility has been shown to lead to lower job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Active incivility was the most damaging. In Figure 7.5 , you can see a summary of this research. One interesting finding was that male and female supervisors engaged in different types of incivility. Male supervisors were far more likely to engage in active incivility, whereas female supervisors were far more likely to engage in passive incivility.


Active and Passive Incivility from Supervisors Source: Vivien K.G. Lim and Thompson S.H. Teo, “Mind Your E-manners: Impact of Cyber Incivility on Employees’ Work Attitude and Behavior,” Information & Management 46 (2009): 419–425. Copyright © 2009, with permission from Elsevier.


Active and Passive Incivility through Emails of Supervisors (Percentage of Employees Who Stated Their Current Supervisor Had Engaged in

Email Incivility)

Put you down or was condescending to you in some way through emails.

Active Email Incivility

Passive Email Incivility

Said something hurtful to you through emails.

Made demeaning or derogatory remarks about you.

Used emails to say negative things about you that he/she wouldn’t say to you face-to-face.

Used emails for time-sensitive messages.

Not replying to your emails at all.

Did not acknowledge receipt of your emails.

Used emails for discussions that would require face-to-face dialogue.

Female supervisors Male supervisors

22% 60%

23% 59%

26% 58%

28% 62%

80% 40%

40% 84%






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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 187

Inevitably, you will be the target of what you consider uncivil electronic commu- nications. In nearly all situations, your goal should be to avoid escalation. You can take several steps to constructively address uncivil emails: reinterpretation, relaxation, and defusing. Reinterpretation involves adjusting your initial perceptions by making more objective, more fact-based, and less personal judgments and evaluations. When people are distressed, they often make extreme, subjective, and overly personal judg- ments. By reinterpreting the event, you allow yourself to take the communication less personally. This is easier said than done. Many people engage in relaxation techniques to help constructively reinterpret the event. Relaxation involves releasing and over- coming anger and frustration so that you can make a more rational and less emotional response. People use a variety of methods to alleviate the physiological impact of anger, including counting to ten, taking time-outs, engaging in deep breathing, and looking for the humor in the situation. 27

In the opening case, you learned that Kip was frustrated with his direct supervisor, Nancy. Kip, perhaps unwisely, fired off an angry email (see the bottom message in Figure 7.6 ), and Nancy responded (the top message in Figure 7.6 ). Whether he was correct or not about Nancy’s approach to guest service is somewhat beside the point. Email is rarely an effective communication channel to air complaints or to discuss emotionally charged issues. Figure 7.7 presents a more-effective response from Nancy to this exchange.

Defusing involves avoiding escalation and removing tension to focus on work ob- jectives. You can take several steps to defuse the situation when you receive an uncivil email. First, focus on task-related facts and issues in your reply. Second, focus on shared objectives and agreements. Third, express interest in arranging a time to meet in person. If this is not possible, attempt a richer channel of communication such as a phone call or web meeting with video. Defusing the situation with an immediate email is only part of the process in restoring or perhaps even strengthening a working relationship. A follow-up meeting is nearly always essential to renew cooperation on shared work efforts.

You will often need to respond to electronic messages that you feel are unfair or inappropriate. Notice how Nancy escalates the problem in the less-effective re- sponse by writing in an impersonal, defensive, and confrontational manner. By con- trast, notice how she defuses the situation in the more-effective response by avoiding defensiveness, focusing on shared interests, and arranging for a time to meet face- to-face. Your ability to defuse uncivil electronic communications during your career will pay off in many ways: It will help your colleagues and teams stay on task and perform better; it will help you develop a reputation for constructively resolving dif- ferences; and it will lead to more satisfying work experiences. The ability to defuse such situations requires high emotional intelligence, especially in self-awareness and self-management.

Manage Your Emails to Avoid Distractions Constantly checking incoming messages—emails, texts, IMs, and various messages through social networking platforms—or simply hearing message alerts distracts busi- ness professionals from concentrating on the tasks at hand. As you are bombarded with incoming messages, your productivity decreases for two reasons: You are distracted from your immediate tasks and you try to multitask.

Interruptions from digital messages, or e-interruptions, are extremely costly to your performance. One recent study found that the average worker loses 2.1 hours per day due to interruptions. Many of these distractions are email and other incom- ing messages. Many business professionals check their email every five minutes, which amounts to 96 e-interruptions in an eight-hour day. Distractions impact your performance for much longer than the few moments you take to acknowledge and respond to incoming messages. A Microsoft study found that it takes 15 minutes

LO7.3 Describe strategies for managing digital message overload.

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188 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

on average to refocus after an interruption. Furthermore, these disruptions have been shown to reduce attention spans, increase stress, and even reduce creativity. The cost to companies is enormous. Intel estimates that large companies lose about $1 billion per year because of email overload. Not surprisingly, many major compa- nies such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Intel have joined the Information Over- load Research Group (iorgforum.org), which is devoted to finding solutions to such problems. 28

Many business professionals erroneously assume they can respond immediately to all incoming messages and focus sufficiently on work tasks. This is simply not the case. A University of Michigan study found that productivity drops by up to 40 percent when people try to do two or more things at once. A variety of research about the brain shows that it is not hardwired to multitask effectively. 29

In most business positions, however, you need to respond to others as soon as pos- sible. This places you in a delicate balancing act; how can you stay responsive to others


Less-Effective Response to an Angry Email

Impersonal. Leaves out greeting and name.

Defensive/attacking. Focuses on defending rather than understanding Kip’s point of view.

Confrontational. Immediately creates a me- versus-you approach with the phrase “we need to talk.”

Accusatory. Kip lays blame on Nancy in every regard. The repeated use of you- voice increases the accusatory tone.

Re: Issues

Jeffreys, Nancy

To: Kip Yamada

Cc: Barbara Brookshire

We need to talk about this email when I get back in a week after

Thanksgiving. I thought we had a productive conversation but you obviously

were not candid. How can we make any progress if you’re not honest? Also,

please empty your voice mail. I tried reaching you several times only to get

your full voice mail box.

From: Kip Yamada [kipyamada@prestigiohotels.com] Sent: Saturday, November 23 9:54 PM To: Nancy Jeffreys [njeffreys@prestigiohotels.com] Cc: Barbara Brookshire [bbrookshire@prestigiohotels.com]

Subject: Issues

Nancy, our conversation really wasn’t fair. I appreciate you striking up the

conversation but you caught me off guard. I know your goal was good – to

get us working together more effectively. But, in the spirit of compromise, I

was not as forthright as I should have been. You are really hurting our

business because you’re not focusing on our customers. Our guests come

to me all the time and complain about your unfair treatment. Even some of

the employees mention how you are not really listening to our guests when

they make complaints. I think the big issue we need to focus on is customer

service, not whether I have authorization to make refunds. Kip

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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 189

yet focus enough to achieve peak performance in your work tasks? Consider the fol- lowing guidelines: 30

● Check digital messages just two to four times each day at designated times . Unless your job calls for it (or your boss demands it!), you should never check your mes- sages more than every 45 minutes. Consider taking interruption-free periods during the day exclusively devoted to email. For example, you might schedule 30 minutes to an hour at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day to communicate via email and other online tools.

● Turn off message alerts . Over the course of a day, these alerts can distract you and reduce your focus.

● Use rich channels such as face – to-face and phone conversations to accomplish a task completely . Back-and-forth email chains and other sets of asynchronous digital messages may repeatedly draw attention away from tasks at hand. As appropriate, use rich, synchronous communication to take care of the matter immediately so that distractions do not compound themselves.

● Reply immediately only to urgent messages . When you reply immediately to non- urgent messages, you set a precedent. Others form an expectation that you can be interrupted at any time for any matter.

Cordial and personal. Uses  Kip’s name and extends  warm wishes.

Validating. Compliments  Kip on his attention to guest  satisfaction.

Inviting. Asks for Kip’s input  in terms of ideas and people  who should be included in a  decision-making process.

Nondefensive. Nancy makes it  clear that making “business  sense” is an important part of  the discussion. She does so  without sounding defensive or  intimidating (she is in the  position of a superior).

Focus on rich communication.  Nancy temporarily defuses the  situation by email but realizes  these issues require rich  communication. She identifies  a meeting as the next step in  the process.

Meeting to Improve Our Response to Guest Complaints

Jeffreys, Nancy

To: Kip Yamada

Cc: Barbara Brookshire

Hello Kip,

I’m sorry to hear that you did not think our conversation was fair. You’re

right – I didn’t give you any chance ahead of time to gather your thoughts.

I do appreciate your enthusiasm for treating our guests fairly.

When we’re both back in the office, let’s set up a time to discuss how to

manage guest complaints. Would you be willing to come up with your ideas

for managing what you consider the three most common guest complaints?

When we meet, I’d also like to discuss how we track our responses to guest

complaints and whether our responses make business sense.

Would you like to include anyone else in our meeting? Do you think the entire marketing team should participate in this discussion?

Happy Thanksgiving!



More-Effective Response to Defuse an Angry Email

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190 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

● Avoid unnecessarily lengthening an email chain . You can shorten email chains by placing statements such as “no reply necessary” in the subject line. You can also shorten email chains by not sending messages such as “got it” or “thanks.” At the same time, make sure you don’t abruptly end an email chain when others would appreciate a reply. For example, some business professionals appreciate short notes of gratitude and confirmation.

● Use automatic messages to help people know when you’re unavailable . Set up au- tomatic messages to let people know when you are out of the office for more than one day.

Many relatively inexpensive, Internet-based communication tools used in business— social networking, blogs, wikis, discussion forums—are driving profound changes in how people connect and collaborate in the workplace. These changes are so profound that workplace culture is moving into a new era: from the Information Age to the Social Age (see Figure 7.8 ). The Social Age is an era in which people engage in net- worked communication, collaborate across boundaries, and solve problems commu- nally. 31 However, even though the communication technologies that have paved the way for the Social Age are changing rapidly (in months and years), workplace culture is relatively slow to change (in years and decades). So, as you read this section, keep in mind that cultural norms and values more significantly influence the impact of social media in the workplace than do its technical capabilities.

LO7.4 Explain characteristics of the emerging Social Age.

Communicating in the Workplace in the Social Age


The Evolving Workplace Industrial AgeIndustrial Age Information AgeInformation Age Social AgeSocial Age

Command-and-control (Little communication

between teams and units)

Mass two-way communication (Extensive communication between teams and units)

Networked communication (Extensive communication between

individuals with shared interests)

Respect for position Respect for expertise and

position Respect for expertise and

contributions to the network

Holding authority is power Holding knowledge is power Sharing knowledge is power

Efficiency, competitiveness, and authority are key values

Autonomy, innovation, and achievement are key values

Transparency, honesty, and camaraderie are key values

1950 2000 205020251975

Industrial Age


Information AgeInformation Age 1970–20251970–2025

Social Age



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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 191

Characteristics of the Social Age The evolution of the Internet during the past 15 years from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 plat- forms is the primary driver of the Social Age. In the original Internet, referred to as Web 1.0, most web pages were read-only and static. As the Internet evolved, referred to as Web 2.0, what emerged was the read-write web, where users interact extensively with web pages—authoring content, expressing opinions, and customizing and editing web content among other things. Web 2.0 communication tools, often referred to as social media, include social networks, blogs, wikis, gaming, podcasts, and informa- tion tagging. In simple terms, Web 1.0 communication tools are primarily passive and static. By contrast, Web 2.0 communication tools are interactive, customizable, and social . 32 User 1.0 refers to an individual who primarily uses and prefers Web 1.0 tools, whereas User 2.0 refers to an individual who primarily uses and prefers Web 2.0 tools (see Table 7.2 ). 33 The emerging Social Age is adopting many workplace norms and values from users of Web 2.0 tools.

Increasingly, companies are adopting social networking platforms that contain Web 2.0 communication tools (also called enterprise social software and Enterprise 2.0 ) in the workplace. These platforms contain many of the features available on so- cial networking websites: user profiles, microblogs, blogs, wikis, and file uploading. They often include a variety of other communication and collaboration tools as well, including online audio and video calls, shared work spaces, calendars, and private messaging (or email) systems. Thus, most companies—especially medium- to large- sized businesses—are increasingly moving toward corporate intranets that contain both Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 tools. One of the earliest organization-wide adopters of social media was Lockheed Martin, an employer of more than 140,000 worldwide. Lockheed Martin created an internal social networking platform called Unity over a decade ago to meet the challenges of its complex collaborations. Unity includes blogs, wikis, file sharing, tags, discussion forums, social bookmarking, and updates through RSS. Rather than using emails, managers use blogs to provide project updates and due dates. 34

The emerging work culture associated with the Social Age presents many benefits to companies and business professionals in the context of team and networked com- munication (see Table 7.3 ). 35 When social media are used for professional purposes, teams can communicate more efficiently; companies can interface more responsively to customers, clients, and suppliers; customers and other interested individuals can be directly involved in the development of products and services; and anyone with shared professional interests can communicate easily, not needing to travel to see one another.


Comparisons between User 1.0 and User 2.0

User 1.0 User 2.0

Passively reading and searching for content Actively creating and sharing content online

Depends on content creator; does not express own opinion

Can express opinions and even change the content presented

Getting the web as is Customizing web pages and content

Email is the main communication tool Peer-to-peer programs are the main communication tools

The computer is the main access point Connects from various devices

Connected online for time-limited sessions Connected online all the time

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192 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

Social media also present many challenges and risks. The primary challenges are cultural. Some of them are age-based: older employees are more accustomed to the communication tools they have used for years and decades. Typically, the Web 1.0 tools reinforce many of older employees’ work values, such as privacy and autonomy. The use of social media creates a free flow of information that, in many cases, runs counter to traditional business approaches to decision making, lines of authority, team formation, performance incentives, and so on.

One basic challenge of using social media internally is getting employees to par- ticipate. In most companies, participation in blogs and wikis is fairly low. The case of Wikipedia is instructive. Although millions of Internet users consider Wikipedia to be a reliable source of information, only a small fraction of users are also Wikipedia au- thors and contributors. Wikipedia is consistently among the ten most visited websites. Yet, less than 1 percent of users ever contribute to its entries. 36

Social media use also presents a variety of risks. For companies, social media can lead to lower productivity when employees use it for social and entertainment pur- poses, release confidential and proprietary information, post inappropriate comments that lead to reputation loss for companies, and go around lines of authority. On an individual level, social media can lead to major credibility loss (discussed further in “Manage Your Online Reputation”).

Internal Communication Tools for the Social Age In this section, we briefly touch on several of the social software tools you can expect to use in the workplace: user profiles, blogs, and wikis. We focus on these tools for a few reasons. They are among the most widely used and most effective social tools, and they involve significant written communication. In Table 7.4 , you can see results of a study by IBM about returns on investment from social media. 37 You will notice that social networking (with user profiles as the foundation for establishing connections), blogs, and wikis are among the most valuable social tools in terms of productivity gains, reduction in IT costs, and increase in revenues.

Organize Your Dashboard to Control Your Communication and Information Flow Nearly all social software systems contain a dashboard, your

LO7.5 Apply principles of effective social media use in professional settings.


Benefits and Challenges of Social Media in the Workplace

Benefits of Social Media Challenges and Risks of Social Media

To companies: • Team communication and collaboration • Succession planning • Recruitment and on-boarding • Idea sharing/knowledge management • Skills development and training • Interfacing with customers, suppliers, and partners • Decreased time to market for new products and services • More innovative, creative, effective, and profitable

approaches to work problems • Less time and fewer resources needed for business travel

To companies: • Lack of adoption and penetration • Lack of permanence • Confusion over which communication channels to use • Distraction from work, too much socializing • Lack of control of information provided externally and

internally • Lack of systems for rewarding networked and team

communication and collaboration

To business professionals: • Build professional networks internally and externally • Access business expertise and knowledge more rapidly • Enhance camaraderie with peers

To business professionals: • Lack of boundaries between professional and private lives • Lower productivity due to multitasking • Excessive opportunism and self-promotion • Mistakes and incompetence broadcast to larger audiences

Major Components of Social Networking


• User profiles* • Blogs/microblogs* • Wikis* • Private messaging

systems** • Discussion forums • RSS feeds • Social bookmarking • Rating and tagging • Video sharing • Podcasts • Mashups *Given more attention in this section because they are writing-intensive **Nearly identical to email in function and form

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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 193

front page when you log in to the system, which operates as your communication hub. In most cases, you can customize the dashboard to display the features that most inter- est you. For example, notice Figure 7.9 , which shows Andrea Garcia’s dashboard. She displays status updates of other team members so she can see what they are working on. She also wants to know how often other team members are using the social soft- ware (upper-right panel), and she subscribes to a business news service (lower-right panel). Think about setting up your dashboard to access messages and information that will help you work efficiently and avoid distractions.


Return on Investment for Internal Social Media

Social Tool Improves Productivity Reduces IT Costs Increases Revenue

Wikis 29% 18% 16%

Tagging 20% 6% 6%

Blogs 12% 5% 6%

Social networking 12% 4% 6%

Syndication/RSS 12% 4% 4%

Podcast 8% 6% N/A

Mashups 8% 6% 6%

Source: From Maria Azua, The Social Factor: Innovate, Ignite, and Win Through Mass Collaboration and Social Networking, 1st Edition, Copyright © 2010. Reprinted by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ.


Sample Dashboard with Enterprise Social Software

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194 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

Create a Complete and Professional Profile In your profile, you provide information about yourself, such as your position, contact information, pro- fessional interests, and current projects. You can usually provide a picture and list per- sonal interests outside of work. One key benefit of social networking platforms is that as people view profiles of others, they feel more connected to them, more so than with Web 1.0 communication tools such as email. Furthermore, profiles are an excellent way of finding people within an organization with needed expertise or shared profes- sional interests. Profiles as part of enterprise social software systems appear much like those in Facebook and LinkedIn. In Figures 7.12 and 7.13, you can see examples of less-effective and more-effective Facebook profiles for Kip Yamada. In Figure 7.14 , you’ll notice Kip’s LinkedIn profile.

In your profiles, make sure you provide complete information. This is a chance for colleagues and clients who do not know you well to learn about your professional background, abilities, and interests. People within your organization who do not know you well may be more likely to follow your blogs and collaborate on wikis and other projects based on what they learn about you on your profiles. Keep in mind that the purpose of your business profile is typically different from the one you post on social networking websites such as Facebook. Your primary goals are professional collabo- rating and networking rather than socializing or entertaining.

Use Blogs for Team Communication Blogs are posts that are arranged chronologically, similar to a journal format. Traditionally, most blogs have included entries by just one or a few individuals, although many provide the option for reader comments. Increasingly, teams and other professional groups write blogs. In the work- place, they allow business professionals to share their ideas and experiences. By fo- cusing on specific topics and areas of expertise, bloggers can attract and connect with other employees with similar professional interests. 38 A variety of blog types have emerged in the workplace, including individual expert blogs, company executive blogs, company team blogs, company update blogs, company crisis blogs, and internal company blogs. 39

Microblogs (such as Twitter), shorter blogs that contain just a few sentences, are part of most enterprise social networking platforms. Microblogs are tools for broad- casting announcements and urgent information. Members of a network can also use them to ask questions that need immediate responses.

For most business professionals, individual blogs have not caught on yet. A recent survey of corporate intranet use showed that most organizations (53 percent) have blogs on their intranets. Up to 87 percent of large companies (over 50,000 employees) make blogs available. However, senior-level executives write most blogs, and most employees view them as leadership communications. In a 2010 study at IBM, an ambi- tious adopter of enterprise social media, just 900 employees (less than .0025 percent of the company total) had blogged in the previous three months. 40 However, individual blogs are expected to grow in importance. Many business professionals have found that blogging gives them a unique forum to network inside and outside of their organi- zations (discussed further in “Manage Your Online Reputation”).

Organizations are increasingly using team blogs and project blogs (many-to-many communication). Team blogs are typically organized around formal work teams, and project blogs are organized around particular projects that generally involve tem- porary teams. Team and project blogs are excellent ways to place all of the team’s communications in a single place, such as updates, progress reports, problem-solving discussions, project timelines and goals, announcements, and a variety of other co- ordination tasks. These team and project blogs are also excellent for sharing success stories to build and shape organizational and team culture. A short example of a team blog is provided in Figure 7.10 , where the Prestigio marketing team is describing and coordinating activities.

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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 195

Use Wikis for Team Communication Wikis are collections of pages that anyone with approved access can edit, thus lending themselves to collaborative writ- ing. Users can add, remove, and change content. Wikis allow employees to collaborate and participate in decision making more easily, creatively, and effectively. They cre- ate a culture of transparency, simplicity, and openness. The collaborative potential of wikis is stronger than any of the other social media tools (see Table 7.4 ). Particularly progressive companies, such as Finnish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia, use inter- nal wikis for project updates and exchange of ideas. Nokia has also attempted to make wikis a primary communication channel for its teams. About 20 percent of Nokia’s 68,000 staff members use wikis regularly. 41

Wikis create an excellent knowledge management system. Since they are located on the corporate intranet or accessible online, employees can access information far more easily and efficiently than information tucked away in email boxes or on an individual user’s computer. Wikis make the organization less dependent on single employees. Many organizations allow employees to constantly update wikis devoted to projects, reports, policies, and reference materials. 42 An example of a wiki in editing mode is provided in Figure 7.11 , where Kip Yamada is directly editing a survey report that Jeff Anderton originally set up and posted.

Some organizations are exploring ways of using wikis for meetings. Wiki meet- ings can cut down on costs and accommodate people at many locations. For example, in September 2006, IBM held a global wiki meeting that lasted three days. Nearly 100,000 people in 160 countries participated in the brainstorming session. 43

Other Social Media Tools Many other communication tools exist on social networking platforms. Furthermore, Enterprise 2.0 platforms are constantly evolving and adding additional communication tools. You would be wise to experiment with all the communication tools available on these platforms so you can identify and use the channels best suited for your audiences.


Sample Team Blog

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196 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

Guidelines for Using Social Media in the Workplace Many communication tools fall under the social media platform. Generally, you can apply the following advice to any of them:

Be an Active Contributor and Participate Often If your company or professional group has committed to using social networking platforms, make sure you contribute regularly and respond to the comments and work of others. As an example, for individual blogs, those employees who gain the largest followings (and thus a repu- tation for thought leadership) make blog entries two to three times per week.

Also, venture out from your formal work teams to establish work relationships with other members of your company or professional network. Voluntarily joining teams built around common interests—often called communities of practice—allows you to share and learn from other professionals in your area. This helps you grow profes- sionally and increases organizational knowledge. Doing so also allows you to become involved in some of the long-term issues facing your organization, since communities of practice often focus on an organization’s long-term issues, whereas teams tend to focus on short-term projects. 44

Listen and Learn Social media offer an ideal means of continuously learning about your company, your industry, and your discipline. In Chapter 3, we focused on the importance of approaching communication from a listening-centered approach. Used wisely, social media give you many ways to listen. As you follow the blogs of


Sample Wiki in Edit Mode

Principles for Professional Social

Media Use

• Be an active contributor.

• Listen and learn. • Focus on content. • Make your content

accessible. • Make your

messages authentic and friendly.

• Be responsive and help others.

• Respect boundaries.

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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 197

others in your company or industry, you gain insights into best practices. If you write an individual blog, you can float ideas and get responses. You can set up RSS feeds to get notices whenever people you follow update their blogs.

Focus on Content Blogs and wikis are collaborative tools. In other words, they are intended to help you work more effectively with your team members, other col- leagues, and clients. The goal is not to entertain others; it is to provide value to others and increase your professional, not social, credibility (as discussed in “Manage Your Online Reputation”). 45 Blog content should focus on your work projects, meetings, shared goals, experiences, and expertise and knowledge.

Of course, social media are called social for a reason. They provide profession- als with rich and exciting communication tools. Including social content is good to a point. In high-performing teams, 60 to 70 percent of all comments are directly related to work, about 15 to 20 percent of comments are supportive, and about 10 to 15 percent are primarily social. This is also the case for business communication via social media. As a good rule of thumb to achieve your professional goals, roughly 70 percent of your social media content should be directly related to work, roughly 20 percent should be supportive, and roughly 10 percent should be social.

Make Your Content Accessible Contributing to blogs and wikis increases your organization’s knowledge. However, if other people can’t find and use your con- tributions, you have not accomplished your purpose. By naming, labeling, indexing, and tagging (applying keywords to your blogs or wikis) well, you help others find your information (see the Technology Tips about tagging on page 198). Also consider using links to your files to help others open them immediately.

Make Your Messages Authentic and Friendly Authenticity is key to effective social media messages. Social media readers expect sincerity and the raw truth. Your messages should not come off as spin and should not contradict who you really are. Be clear about your intentions. Your messages should also have a friendly tone. However, authenticity and friendliness do not mean sloppy writing or rudeness. When engaging in collaborative writing, keep a friendly tone even when you disagree with others. Avoid any urges to delete the comments of others or engage in edit wars. 46

Be Responsive and Help Others One expectation of social networks is that you are a good member of the community. As a good member, you respond posi- tively to the requests of others and help when possible. As you gain a reputation for responding and helping others, you can expect that other community members will respond and help you.

Respect Boundaries The many communication tools available in the emerging Social Age allow people to communicate with nearly anyone at nearly anytime from nearly any location about nearly anything. In other words, the division between profes- sional and private lives is becoming increasingly blurred. Stay observant about where your colleagues draw lines to preserve their lives away from work.

Manage Your Online Reputation Although nearly all business professionals are aware of social networking and the im- portance of strong online reputations, most are still learning to manage their online presences strategically. And although younger people are often expert at developing an online social persona, they are less skilled at developing an online professional pres- ence. 47 As you read this section, think about the opportunities and risks for you as you develop your online reputation.

First, think carefully about developing a personal brand in a professional sense—a unique set of professional skills and attributes that others associate with you. 48 In the

LO7.6 Build a credible online reputation.

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198 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

Technology Ti pS

USING TAGGING FOR KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT One of the strongest benefits of enterprise social software is the ability to tag and index documents so you and your colleagues can find information rapidly. In some organizations, the intranet may contain millions of web pages and files with the collective knowledge of the organization. By pro- viding tags and other information in your posts and files, you make it possible for any colleague in your organization to find your messages. Simi- larly, if you are writing online business messages for external audiences, your tags can lead custom- ers, clients, and other contacts to your messages with simple Internet searches. In the image at right, you can see an example of how information can be labeled and tagged for a word processing file. You can take similar actions for any type of business message in enter- prise social software platforms to allow others to quickly find your files.

final chapter of this book, when we turn to job applications, we discuss the notion of promoting your personal brand in more detail. Here, we introduce the idea of building your personal brand and using it as an asset in your career progression. Increasingly, you will express your personal brand through social media tools. One major goal, then, for your online activities is to build a reputation that showcases your credibility and personal brand.

Whether or not you have intentionally created an online presence, potential and current employers, colleagues, and clients will judge your credibility based on online information about you. Thus, you need to take as much control as you can of your online reputation. As portrayed in Table 7.5 , one helpful approach is to consider the meta messages, or overall and underlying messages that others decode from your online communications. 49 These meta messages become one basis for your online reputation.

For example, consider two students, Jenny and Regina, who create blogs about their study-abroad experiences in Spain. Jenny’s blog describes her observations of her homestay family, the people in the community, and her efforts to learn Spanish. She frequently talks about the generosity they extend to her. She posts pictures of cultural and historical sites as well as many of the people she meets. Her blog sends a meta message, “I’m grateful to the people in Spain for providing me with such a rich learning experience.” This meta message feeds into a reputation for open-mindedness, flexibility, curiosity, and appreciation of others.

Regina, on the other hand, mostly posts pictures of herself at pubs. She describes the many friends she has made who are also American study-abroad students. Her longest entry explains how glad she was to go to the Hard Rock Café and get a hamburger “just like back at home.” To many readers, the meta message Regina sends is, “I’m having a great time with my American friends in Spain.” This meta message may feed into a reputation for complacency and closed-mindedness.

Take a few minutes to think about Table 7.5 . You will notice a variety of positive meta messages and related reputations. You can see that these meta messages and reputations are grouped into four areas: personal and private; professional and pri- vate; personal and public; and professional and public. In each domain of your online communications, you should think about the meta messages you would like to send

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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 199


Developing a Credible Online Reputation

Positive Meta Messages Sought-After Reputations

Personal and Private (for family and friends) Example: a family blog

I’m a good listener (competence) I can take care of you (competence) I hope the best for you (caring) You can always count on me (caring) You can trust me (character) I’m a fun person (character)

Communicative, interpersonal skills Dependable, reliable, capable Considerate, caring, concerned Loyal, committed Honest, trustworthy Fun-loving, exciting

Professional and Private (for work colleagues) Examples: a corporate blog or wiki

I will get the job done (competence) I am a good team member (competence) I want you to succeed (caring) I want to work with you (caring) I will do what I say (character) I abide by the rules (character)

Competent, skilled, dependable Bring out the best in others Supportive, caring Team-oriented, collaborative Sincere, genuine, integrity Moral, ethical, fair

Personal and Public (for society) Example: social networking website such as Facebook

I have certain abilities (competence) I have certain interests (competence) I want to share my experiences and ideas (caring) I want to learn about you (caring) I have certain social values and priorities (character) I live my life according to certain beliefs (character)

Talented, skilled, capable Determined, focused, driven Open, networked, independent Inquisitive, curious, considerate Activist, cause-driven, passionate Moral, understanding

Professional and Public (for professional peers) Example: professional social networking website such as LinkedIn

I am an expert (competent) I want to lead a professional discussion (competent) I want to share my ideas with you (caring) I want to understand your experiences (caring) I am committed to my industry (character) I think my profession should maintain high standards (character)

Thought leader, forward-thinking Initiative, leadership, open-minded Generous, giving, collaborative Learning, inquisitive, curious Professional, passionate, committed Ethical, disciplined, consistent

so that you build a credible reputation. Also, because many of your online communi- cations are accessible to personal friends as well as professional contacts, you need to consider whether you are prioritizing your professional or your social reputation.

Many business professionals have gained professional opportunities by developing personal brands online. For example, Scott Monty landed a senior-level marketing position at Ford after three years of blog writing about the convergence of marketing, advertising, and public relations. When Ford brought him in, he had 3,500 Twitter fol- lowers. Now he has 41,000. 50

Social media tools make developing a personal brand easier than ever. You can broadcast your expertise and business interests to an ever-growing network of business professionals. However, social media tools also make it easier than ever to damage your personal brand and online reputation. When you make inaccurate or unprofes- sional posts, your incompetency, unprofessionalism, and other mistakes are broadcast to a much larger network. In fact, one mistake can undermine your reputation. 51

Some business professionals damage their reputations because their social media use sends meta messages that they are self-promoters and careerists. Other employ- ees view their online communications as opportunistic and self-centered, believing the self-promoters place their personal career interests ahead of the organization’s interests. 52 Generally, the reputation as a self-promoter comes from excessively drawing attention to one’s own professional skills and interests. As you adopt other- oriented, listening-centered approaches to social media use, you can highlight your

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200 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

Nonstrategic. Does not draw attention to professional interests.

Nonflattering. Some people who do not know Kip will form their first impressions of him based on his interest in vulgar and violent movies and games.

Nonpersonal. Most business professionals are eager to see a picture in profiles.


Less-Effective Personal Social Networking Profile

own professional skills and interests without reaching what others consider excessive self-promotion.

Compare Kip’s online profiles for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (in Figures 7.12, 7.13, and 7.14). In particular, compare his less-effective and more-effective Facebook profiles. The evaluations of the examples are based on professional standards, not so- cial standards. Think about the meta messages these profiles may send. At the same time, think about your own online profiles and social networking activity. What meta messages are you sending? What type of reputation are you building?

Social media use is particularly well suited for networked communication. As we have discussed, working in networks is an increasingly important skill and integral to success in the emerging Social Age. As part of large professional networks, seek a reputation as a giver, not a taker. Similarly, always honor your commitments. In net- worked communication, word gets around quickly about which members are consid- ered givers, which honor commitments, and which do not.

Use Social Media Ethically The use of social media, even for private use, complicates your relationship with your employer. Consider the following cases: 53

An employee who works in research and development updates his Facebook status, bemoaning the fact that he has to cancel his weekend golf plans due to yet another project delay. Other Facebook users connect this with a highly anticipated product launch, and the company’s stock price declines.

A salesperson posts a derogatory comment on Twitter about a prospective client’s headquarters city as he lands there the day before a critical presentation. Someone forwards the tweet to the CEO, who cancels the meeting.

LO7.7 Describe the ethical use of social media for work.

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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 201


Using Social Media for Work Purposes


More-Effective Personal Social Networking Profile

Strategic. Draws attention to professional interests in a variety of locations.

Nondistracting. Kip provides personal information that does not distract attention away from his professional interests.

Warm and personal. The profile picture displays Kip as a professional, friendly person.

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202 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

Coca-Cola’s Social Media Guidelines

The Company respects the rights of its associates and its authorized agencies’ associates to use blogs and other social media tools not only as a form of self-expression, but also as a means to further the Company’s business. It is important that all associates are aware of the implications of engaging in forms of social media and online conversations that reference the Company and/or the associate’s relationship with the Company and its brands, and that associates recognize when the Company might be held responsible for their behavior.

Our Expectations for Associates’ Personal Behavior in Online Social Media

There’s a big difference in speaking “on behalf of the Company ” and speaking “about” the Company. This set of 5 principles refers to those personal or unofficial online activities where you might refer to Coca-Cola.

1. Adhere to the Code of Business Conduct and other applicable policies. All Company associates, from the Chairman to every intern, are subject to the Company’s Code of Business Conduct in every public setting. In addition, other policies, including the Information Protection Policy and the Insider Trading Policy, govern associates’ behavior with respect to the disclosure of information; these policies are applicable to your personal activities online.

2. You are responsible for your actions. Anything you post that can potentially tarnish the Company’s image will ultimately be your responsibility. We do encourage you to participate in the online social media space, but urge you to do so properly, exercising sound judgment and common sense.

3. Be a “scout” for compliments and criticism. Even if you are not an official online spokesperson for the Company, you are one of our most vital assets for monitoring the social media landscape. If you come across positive or negative remarks about the Company or its brands online that you believe are important, consider sharing them by forwarding them to [public relations].

4. Let the subject matter experts respond to negative posts. You may come across negative or disparaging posts about the Company or its brands, or see third parties trying to spark negative conversations. Unless you are a certified online spokesperson, avoid the temptation to react yourself. Pass the post(s) along to our official in-market spokespersons who are trained to address such comments.

5. Be conscious when mixing your business and personal lives. Online, your personal and business personas are likely to intersect. The Company respects the free speech rights of all of its associates, but you must remember that customers, colleagues, and supervisors often have access to the online content you post. Keep this in mind when publishing information online that can be seen by more than friends and family, and know that information originally intended just for friends and family can be forwarded on. Remember NEVER to disclose nonpublic information of the Company (including confidential information), and be aware that taking public positions online that are counter to the Company’s interests might cause conflict.


Example of Social Media Guidelines

An employee is terminated for cause. A few weeks later, she asks a former colleague to recommend her on LinkedIn. The former colleague writes a glowing recommendation. The terminated employee later uses this recommendation as evidence in a discrimination suit, claiming she was terminated unfairly.

As these various examples illustrate, much more than your online reputation is at stake with social media use; the reputation and performance of your company is at stake as well. The line between what you believe is private use of social media and your role as an employee can be murky, since your private actions can damage your employer and hurt your career.

In short, constantly try to understand evolving norms for social media use in a professional context. For your own protection and that of your company, become fa- miliar with your company’s acceptable-use policies for social networking websites. 54 Coca-Cola recently compiled a set of social media guidelines (see Figure  7.15 ). Notice the principles of appropriate social media use. Then read the Communication Q&A with Catherine Norris (page 203) for her thoughts on workplace collaboration through face-to-face communication and through communication technologies.

Source: Example of Coca-Cola’s Social Media Guidelines.

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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 203

Commu nicatio

n Q&A


Pete Cardon: What’s an example of a project you have worked on recently that involves extensive collaboration and coordination? What are the communication challenges you faced on this project? Catherine Norris: One of the major challenges of the project I am coordinating is communicat- ing the need for change and how that change can improve performance in cost and quality. If the stakeholders are convinced that they need to make changes, then they are more likely to achieve quality and cost goals. Simply put, if I do not effectively communicate why change is needed, then the project fails.

PC: How do you use communication technologies? CN: The persons I work with on a daily basis have a broad range of familiarity with communi- cation technologies such as social networking, blogs, and wikis. Some people are very com- fortable with these methods, and others have never used them. Therefore, I use the technology communication tool that best fits the situation and is easiest. After all, if the project team and stakeholders do not use a given technology, then there is no point in forcing it.

The project team relies heavily on the use of email, the corporate intranet, and the Internet to communicate. For example, we use email to send routine messages and document attachments back and forth for review and approval. The advantage of using email is that the messages can be tracked. Furthermore, email communication is precise and efficient. You can access your email when you have the time as opposed to waiting to schedule a live face-to-face meeting. Many people today carry smartphones and have email access anywhere. Work gets done efficiently without wasting time.

The project team uses the corporate intranet to schedule meetings and access intranet links to our progress documents for projects. This is a place where internal users can review shared documents, update project assignments, and view project news and webcast links online. Conference phone calls and webcasts for product training and remote meetings have been a very effective means of communicating too.

PC: How do you choose when to use various communication technologies? CN: Although I find email very effective for routine messages, face-to-face communication is crucial when the message needs emphasis. That is why our project team has conducted one-on-one, face-to-face meetings to communicate quality and cost performance data to our stakeholders. By doing so, we emphasize why we should focus on these goals now. In ad- dition, it allows for a two-way dialogue with a personal touch. If we used an impersonal communication method like email or a written report delivered to a mailbox, we would miss a valuable opportunity to develop a personal relationship and dialogue around performance improvement.

Catherine Norris, project manager, has worked in the health care industry for 25 years in a variety of capacities, including management and nursing.

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Chapter Takeaway for Email and Social Media for Business Communication

LO 7.1. Apply principles for writing effective emails. ( pp. 179–185 )

Principles of Effective Emails Components of Effective Emails ● Use for the right purposes. ● Ensure ease of reading. ● Show respect for time. ● Protect privacy confidentiality.

● Respond promptly. ● Maintain professionalism

and appropriate formality. ● Manage emotion effectively. ● Avoid distractions.

● Subject line ● Greeting* ● Message ● Closing* ● Signature block* ● Attachments


See examples of ineffective and effective emails in Figures 7.1 and 7.2.

LO 7.2. Explain how to handle emotion effectively in online communications. ( pp. 185–187 )

Responding to Uncivil Communications ● Reinterpret ● Relax ● Defuse

See examples of ineffective and effective responses to uncivil emails in Figures 7.6 and 7.7.

LO 7.3. Describe strategies for managing digital message overload. ( pp. 187–190 )

Principles for Managing Emails to Avoid Distractions ● Check digital messages just two to four times each

day at designated times. ● Turn off message alerts. ● Use rich channels such as face-to-face and phone

conversations to accomplish a task completely.

● Reply immediately only to urgent messages. ● Avoid unnecessarily lengthening an email chain. ● Use automatic messages to help people know when

you’re unavailable.

LO 7.4. Explain characteristics of the emerging Social Age. ( pp. 190–192 )

Characteristics of the Social Age ● Networked communication ● Respect for expertise and contributions to the network ● Sharing knowledge ● Transparency, honesty, and camaraderie

LO 7.5. Apply principles of effective social media use in professional settings. ( pp. 192–197 )

Principles for Using Internal Communication Tools in the Social Age See examples of a social networking dashboard in Figure 7.9, a team blog in Figure 7.10, and a wiki in Figure 7.11.

● Organize your dashboard to control your communication and information flow.

● Create a complete and professional profile.

● Use blogs for team communication.

● Use wikis for team communication.

● Participate and contribute often.

● Listen and learn.

● Focus on content.

● Make your content accessible.

● Make your messages authentic and friendly.

● Be responsive and help others.

● Respect boundaries.

LO 7.6. Build a credible online reputation. (pp. 197–200)

See Table 7.5 for types of positive meta messages you seek to establish your online reputation. See examples of ineffective and effective social networking profiles in Figures 7.12 through 7.14.

LO 7.7. Describe the ethical use of social media for work. ( pp. 200–203 )

See an example of corporate social media guidelines in Figure 7.15.

1950 2000 205020251975

Industrial Age


Information AgeInformation Age 1970–20251970–2025

Social Age



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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 205

active incivility (p. 186) blogs (p. 194) cyber incivility (p. 186) cyber silence (p. 185) defusing (p. 187) flames (p. 185) microblogs (p. 194) negativity effect (p. 185)

neutrality effect (p. 185) passive incivility (p. 186) personal brand (p. 197) project blogs (p. 194) reinterpretation (p. 187) relaxation (p. 187) Social Age (p. 190) social media (p. 191)

team blogs (p. 194) User 1.0 (p. 191) User 2.0 (p. 191) Web 1.0 (p. 191) Web 2.0 (p. 191) wikis (p. 195)

Key Terms

7.1 Chapter Review Questions (LO 7.1, LO 7.2, LO 7.3, LO 7.4, LO 7.5, LO 7.6, LO 7.7)

A. What strategies can you use to ensure ease of reading in your emails and other digital communications?

B. What strategies can you use to show respect for the time of others?

C. Explain the neutrality effect and negativity effect in digital communications. What do they imply for how you write digital messages?

D. What strategies can you use to avoid email overload and, as a result, increase your productivity?

E. Explain the following components of constructively respond- ing to uncivil digital messages: reinterpretation, relaxation, and defusing.

F. What are some characteristics of the Social Age? G. What elements of tone are most important for social media

messages? H. What strategies can you use to build a credible online

reputation? I. How can you use social media ethically from the perspective

of your employer?

7.2 Questions about Communication Q&A with Catherine Norris (LO 7.1, LO 7.2, LO 7.5)

Read the Communication Q&A featuring Catherine Norris. Answer the following questions:

A. What principles does Norris use when deciding which com- munication technologies to use? In what ways do you agree and/or disagree?

B. In her view, how is the corporate intranet useful? C. According to her, what are the main benefits and

drawbacks of email? What future role does it have in business communications? In what ways do you agree and/or disagree?

D. According to her, what are the benefits and drawbacks of face-to-face communication? In what ways do you agree and/ or disagree?

E. What was the most valuable information from this interview for you?

7.3 Information Overload Due to Digital Messages (LO 7.3)

Go to the Information Overload Research Group’s website (iorgforum.org). Read a research article, blog entry, or other con- tent about a topic of interest. In three to five paragraphs, explain the following: (a) main points in the article; (b) your views of the main points; and (c) three strategies you will adopt to avoid infor- mation overload in the workplace.

7.4 Social Media, Online Expression, and Collaboration (LO 7.4, LO 7.5)

Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies, recently commented about the use of new communication channels. He specifically mentioned the use of social networking and the growing impor- tance of Web 2.0 tools:

As my kids became teenagers, I started looking at Facebook a little more closely. It was a significant amount of collaboration. There was open understanding. They didn’t have a problem sharing their status. Nothing seemed to be secret, and they were living their lives very openly, and friends were commenting on each other and it was working. Here is my generation, which is very security-conscious and privacy-conscious, and I thought, what are the differences? This is the generation coming to work for us. It’s not my generation. So we started having people make their presentations and record them for our internal website. We open that for review to a 360-degree workshop, which means your subordinates will review it. Your managers will read it. Your peers will read it, and everybody will comment on it. I will be, or your manager will be, one of the many who read it. So, every presentation was reviewed by 300, 400 people. What happened? There were two very interesting lessons that I learned. One, because your subordinates are going to see the plan, you cannot lie. You have to be honest. Two, because your peers are going to see it, you are going to put your best work into it. Third, you didn’t learn from me. You learned by reviewing somebody else’s presentation. You learned from the comments somebody else gave you. For the 8,000 people who par- ticipated, there was a massive collaborative learning that took place. 55

Based on Nayar’s comments and your own experiences, answer the following questions:

A. What are the potential personal and group benefits from using Web 2.0 communication channels?

B. What are some of the differing attitudes between generations about online expression? What impact might these differences have on workplace communication?

Discussion Exercises ll

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206 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

C. In what ways do online communications lead to more honesty and higher-quality work?

D. In what ways might online communications lead to less hon- esty and lower-quality work?

7.5 Challenges to Adopting Social Media for Professional Use (LO 7.4, LO 7.5)

Andrew McAfee, one of the premier experts on Enterprise 2.0 sys- tems, commented about the challenges of adopting such systems and the shift in orientation needed by management to unleash a culture of User 2.0.

I thought these technologies [such as Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr, and YouTube] were essentially so cool that when you dropped them in an organization, people flocked to them. That was the assumption I carried around in my research. I very quickly had that overturned. This is not an overnight phenomenon at all. And while there are pockets of energy, getting mass adoption remains a pretty serious challenge for a lot of organizations. If you’re a middle manager who essentially views your job as one of gatekeeping or refereeing information flows, you should be pretty frightened by these technologies, because they’re going to greatly reduce your ability to do that. If you’re someone who sees your job as managing people and fundamentally getting the human elements right that will lead your part of the organization to succeed, these technologies are not at all harmful to you. One of the things that we’ve learned is that there’s no technology—even these great new social technologies—that’s a substitute for face time. If you have another view of yourself, which is that you’re someone who’s responsible for output, these tools should be your best friend. Because all the evidence we have suggests that Enterprise 2.0 helps you turn out more and bet- ter products and actually is not a vehicle for time wasting or for chip- ping away at what you’re supposed to be doing throughout the day. 56

Based on McAfee’s comments, contents of the chapter, and your own experiences, respond to the following questions:

A. What are the major obstacles to adopting Web 2.0 communi- cation tools in the workplace?

B. McAfee distinguishes between information gatekeepers and managers of people. Explain what you think he means by this distinction and its relevance to the adoption of social software.

C. When are Web 2.0 communication tools more efficient than Web 1.0 communication tools such as email?

D. When are Web 1.0 communication tools such as email better choices than Web 2.0 communication tools?

E. Place yourself in the position of a middle or upper manager. Describe two ways in which the use of social media tools by your subordinates would benefit you and two ways in which they would threaten you.

7.6 Social Media Use and Interpersonal Skills (LO 7.4, LO 7.5)

Jeffrey Zaslow, in a November 5, 2009, article called “The Greatest Generation of Networkers” in The Wall Street Journal , examined attitudes about Millennials in the workplace. Consider a few of the comments:

Because so many people in their teens and early 20s are in this constant whir of socializing—accessible to each other every minute of the day via cell phone, instant messaging and social-networking websites—there are a host of new questions that need to be addressed in schools, in the workplace, and at home. Chief among them: How

much work can “hyper-socializing” students or employees really ac- complish if they are holding multiple conversations with friends via text messaging, or are obsessively checking Facebook? Some argue they can accomplish a great deal: This generation has a gift for multitasking, and because they’ve integrated technol- ogy into their lives, their ability to remain connected to each other will serve them and their employers well. Others contend that these hyper-socializers are serial time-wasters, that the bonds between them are shallow, and that their face-to-face interpersonal skills are poor. Does text messaging prepare one to interact in the workplace? “The unspoken attitude is, ‘I don’t need you. I have the Internet,’” says P.M. Forni, the 58-year-old director of the Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins University, which studies politeness and manners. “The Net provides an opportunity to play hide-and-seek, to say and not say, to be truthful and to pretend. There is a lot of communication going on that is futile and trivial.” That’s far too harsh an assessment, says Ben Bajarin, 32, a tech- nology analyst at Creative Strategies, a consulting firm in Campbell, California. He argues that because young people are so adept at multimedia socializing, their social skills are actually strengthened. They’re good at “managing conversations” and getting to the pithy essence of an issue, he says, which will help them in the workplace. While their older colleagues waste time holding meetings or engaging in long phone conversations, young people have an ability to sum things up in one-sentence text messages, Bajarin says. “They know how to optimize and prioritize. They will call or set up a meet- ing if it’s needed. If not, they text.” And given their vast network of online acquaintances, they discover people who can become true friends or valued business colleagues—people they wouldn’t have been able to find in the pre-Internet era.

Answer the following questions related to this passage from Zaslow:

A. In what ways do communication tools enhance the effective development of interpersonal skills needed in the workplace?

B. In what ways do communication tools hamper the effective development of interpersonal skills needed in the workplace?

C. What are some of the most valuable communication skills that Millennials bring to the workplace?

D. What are communication skills that you think Millennials most need to develop?

E. It’s safe to assume that some non-Millennial workers hold a viewpoint similar to that of P. M. Forni in the passage above. What does this imply for you as you enter the workplace?

7.7 Blogs on Communication Technology (LO 7.5, LO 7.6, LO 7.7)

Select a blog entry about the impact of communication technolo- gies on corporate culture from a well-known thinker. Search for a blog that interests you or choose from the following:

● Andrew McAfee’s blog: http://andrewmcafee.org/blog/ ● Jonathan Zittrain’s blog: http://futureoftheinternet.org/

Based on the blog entry, respond to the following items:

A. Briefly summarize the topic of the blog entry. B. According to the entry, what is the impact of communication

technology on corporate culture? C. Describe your feelings and attitudes regarding the entry. Do

you agree or disagree with certain points? Are you enthusias- tic or pessimistic about various parts of the entry?

D. Explain how the topic will impact you in the workplace.

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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 207

7.8 Internet Communication Taking Over (LO 7.1, LO 7.4, LO 7.5, LO 7.6)

As researchers Simon Wright and Juraj Zdinak recently stated, “Internet communication is slowly taking over traditional phone- based voice communication and face-to-face communication. Restrictions to local or regional communities no longer apply: The Internet has enabled easy global communication.” 57 Think about your future career and answer the following questions:

A. Is the prospect of communicating primarily via the Internet liberating? Explain.

B. Do you view the possibility of less face-to-face communica- tion as disappointing? Explain.

C. What personal characteristics and skills are particularly well suited to success for predominantly Internet-based communication?

7.9 Setting Boundaries (LO 7.5, LO 7.6, LO 7.7)

In a recent survey of corporate employees, 76 percent thought it was OK to friend another employee who was a peer. Only 35 per- cent thought it was OK to friend a supervisor, and only 30 percent thought it was OK to friend a supervisee. 58 Answer the following related questions:

A. Do you think it is appropriate to friend a supervisor or su- pervisee on Facebook or another social networking website? What problems could arise by doing so? What work benefits might you achieve? What social boundaries should exist be- tween supervisors and supervisees?

B. Do you think the boundaries between private life and work life are blurred by communication technologies such as social net- working? What standards or principles do you want to use to keep parts of your private life separate from your colleagues?

C. Have you ever talked to your colleagues or classmates about your communication preferences? For example, have you discussed preferences for certain communication channels or expected response times? Describe your experiences.

7.10 Ethical Use of Social Media (LO 7.7)

Reread the three examples of personal social media use that hurt employers (p. 200). For each item, do the following:

A. Explain why the social media use was unethical. B. Describe a similar behavior you have observed. C. Recommend how employees can avoid such problems.

7.11 Corporate Social Media Guidelines (LO 7.7)

Reread Coca-Cola’s social media guidelines in Figure 7.15 . Re- spond to the following items:

A. Generally, what is the difference between speaking “on behalf of the Company” and speaking “about” the Company?

B. The policy states that employees are responsible for following the Code of Business Conduct in all public settings. Do you think your online activities on public social networking web- sites constitute a public setting? Explain.

C. The policy states that employees are responsible for any post that can “potentially tarnish the Company’s image.” Give five examples of posts that many people might consider private but that could damage a company’s image.

D. What does it mean to be a scout? E. What types of online conversations about the company are

appropriate? Inappropriate? F. What are some public positions employees might take that

would be considered “counter to the Company’s interests”?

7.12 Evaluating Email Messages (LO 7.1)

Compare the less-effective and more-effective emails in Figures 7.1 and 7.2 in the following ways:

A. Analyze the writing for each email based on tone, style, or design.

B. Evaluate them based on three principles for effective emails from this chapter.

C. Make two recommendations for improving the more-effective email.

7.13 Description of Past Work or School-Related Emails (LO 7.1)

Think of recent emails you have received related to work and school. Describe three effective email practices and three ineffective email practices you have observed. Describe each of these practices in detail (a paragraph each) and provide specific examples from emails you have received. You don’t need to reveal who sent the emails.

7.14 Self-Assessment for Email Practices (LO 7.1)

Evaluate your typical practices with regard to email for school or work by circling the appropriate number for each item below.

Evaluation Exercises

1 – Disagree 2 – Somewhat

Disagree 3 – Somewhat

Agree 4 – Agree

I almost always reread my email message in entirety before sending it.

1 2 3 4

I write emails in a professional and sufficiently formal manner.

1 2 3 4

I think carefully about what to write in the subject line. 1 2 3 4

I use a spell-checker for important email messages. 1 2 3 4 (continued )


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208 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

1 – Disagree 2 – Somewhat

Disagree 3 – Somewhat

Agree 4 – Agree

I envision how the recipient of my email message will respond when she/he receives it.

1 2 3 4

I think about the preferred communication channel of my message recipient before writing an email.

1 2 3 4

I read emails from others carefully and in their entirety before responding.

1 2 3 4

Before sending a reply email, I make one last check to see that I have responded to everything requested.

1 2 3 4

I regularly schedule uninterrupted time to focus on reading and responding to emails.

1 2 3 4

I set up an automatic email response or in other ways let others know when I will not be responsive to emails for an extended period (e.g., during vacation time).

1 2 3 4

Add up your score and consider the following advice:

35–40: You are a strategic communicator by email. You carefully plan your emails and make sure that you send a professional communication. Notice the items you did not place a 4 next to and focus on improving in these areas.

30–34: You are a careful communicator by email. You generally plan your emails well. However, you sometimes send them without enough thought or without reviewing them sufficiently. Focus on spending slightly more time in the planning stage.

25–29: You are an above average communicator by email. Sometimes you plan your emails well. Make sure to spend more time before sending an email. Always make sure your content is com- pletely professional before sending it.

Under 25: You need to improve your approach to writing emails. You are too casual. Consider altering your orientation so that you view email as an important, formal business communication tool in which slight mistakes can damage your career.

Write three goals you have for becoming a more effective com- municator by email. Go through the items in the survey one by one to help you think of areas where you most need to improve.

7.15 Assessment of Prior Email or Other Electronic Communication (LO 7.1, LO 7.2)

Think of an important email or other electronic communication you have sent in which others misunderstood your emotions and/ or intent. How did the other person respond? Did you think the response was fair? Why did this person misunderstand? Did the lack of richness of the communication channel have an impact? How could you have written or approached your message differ- ently to avoid misunderstandings?

7.16 Choosing the Right Type of Digital Message (LO 7.1, LO 7.5)

For each of the following communication tasks, identify which communication channel you think would work best: email, blogs, or wikis. Write several sentences explaining why you would

choose that communication channel. Assume you are a manager sending these messages to your subordinates:

A. Giving updates about an ongoing project. B. Providing feedback on individual performance. C. Sending a note of appreciation to one of your subordinates for

excellent work. D. Providing meeting minutes. E. Setting up a working document about ground rules for partici-

pation in meetings. F. Extending birthday wishes. G. Sharing ideas with a few but not all of your subordinates. H. Announcing a meeting for the whole team. I. Announcing a meeting with two of the team members. J. Working on a joint marketing proposal.

7.17 Responding to Cyber Incivility (LO 7.2)

Respond to the following questions:

A. What types of cyber incivility have you observed or heard about? B. Based on your own experiences or those of your friends or

colleagues, describe a situation in which someone was the tar- get of cyber incivility. Describe the cyber incivility. How well did the target respond? How well did the target reinterpret, relax, and/or defuse the situation?

C. Compare the less-effective and more-effective responses to an angry email depicted in Figures 7.6 and 7.7. Explain three specific ways in which the more-effective response defuses the situation. Also, suggest two improvements you would make to the more-effective response in Figure 7.7 .

7.18 Responding to Digital Messages and Managing Your Time (LO 7.3)

Answer the following questions about appropriately responding to digital messages:

A. What do you think is an appropriate response time to the fol- lowing types of digital messages: texts, microblog messages (such as tweets), and emails?

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Email and Social Media for Business Communication Chapter Seven 209

B. Have others ever found your response time surprisingly fast? Have others ever found your response time to be slow enough to be considered impolite or uncivil? How can you influence the expectations of others regarding how quickly you respond to their digital messages?

C. Explain cyber silence. Provide three examples that you have observed.

D. What is the best way to respond to cyber silence when you need a response from someone else?

E. What three strategies do you or will you use in the upcoming five years to avoid e-interruptions in the workplace?

7.19 Evaluating Business Blogs (LO 7.5, LO 7.6)

Identify three individual business blogs in an area of interest to you. Analyze each blog in the following ways:

A. How does the blog provide value to readers? B. What is the niche (unique offering) of this blog? What sets it

apart from other blogs? C. What tone does the writing convey? What are the meta

messages from the blog? D. How does the blog contribute to a personal brand for the author?

Conclude with five recommendations you have for how business professionals can create valuable blogs.

7.20 Evaluating Meta Messages (LO 7.6)

Based on the less-effective and more-effective social networking pro- files depicted in Figures 7.12 and 7.13, respond to the following items:

A. What meta messages does each profile send to professionals who do not know Kip? Choose two primary meta messages for each profile.

B. What meta messages does each profile send to colleagues who do know Kip? Choose two primary meta messages for each profile.

C. What meta messages does each profile send to family mem- bers and friends? Choose two primary meta messages for each profile.

D. What three recommendations would you make to Kip to improve his Facebook profile ( Figure 7.12 ) and his LinkedIn profile ( Figure 7.14 ) to enhance his professional credibility?

7.21 Evaluating Your Online Reputation (LO 7.6)

A. Currently, what type of online reputation do you have in a professional sense?

B. In four or five sentences, explain the personal brand you would like to develop over the next five years.

C. Explain three strategies you will employ to develop your personal brand in your online communications. Devote at least one paragraph to each strategy.

7.22 Sending the Right Meta Messages with Your Online Communications (LO 7.5, LO 7.6)

Using Table 7.5 as a guide, do the following for each domain of your online reputation: personal and private; professional and private; personal and public; and professional and public:

A. What are the online communication channels you will use for each domain?

B. Will you use the same channels for more than one domain? If you share any of the communication channels for more than one domain, how will you prioritize which audiences to choose content for?

C. What are the primary meta messages you want to send? Choose two meta messages for each domain and explain how you intend to send these meta messages.

Endnotes 1. Peter W. Cardon, Melvin Washington, Ephraim A. Okoro, Bryan Marshall, and Nipul Patel, “Cross-Generational Perspectives on How Mobile Phone Use for Texting and Calling Influences Work Outcomes and Work Relationships,” presented at the Association for Business Communi- cation Southeast Conference , Charleston, South Carolina, April 1, 2011.

2. “Corporate Intranets ‘Useless’ to Business,” Concentra website (March 2, 2010), retrieved July 6, 2010, from http:// live.lewispr.com/concentra/2010/03/02/corporate-intranets -%E2%80%98useless%E2%80%99-to-business-598.

3. Sara Radicati, ed., and Masha Khmartseva, Email Statistics Report, 2009–2013 (Palo Alto, CA: Radicati Group, April 2009).

4. “Email Has Made Slaves of Us,” The Daily Telegraph , June 16, 2008.

5. Sara Radicati and Quoc Hoang, Email Statistics Report, 2011–2015 (Palo Alto, CA: Radicati Group, 2011).

6. Jeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today (New York: HarperCollins, 2010).

7. Ibid.

8. Beverly Langford, The Etiquette Advantage: The Unspoken Rules for Business Success (New York: American Management Association, 2005).

9. Alan Murray, “Should I Use Email?” The Wall Street Journal web- site, retrieved July 15, 2010, from http://guides.wsj.com/management /managing-your-people/should-i-use-email/.

10. Michael Hyatt, “Email Etiquette 101,” retrieved July 15, 2010, from http://michaelhyatt.com/2007/07/email-etiquette-101.html.

11. Nick Morgan, “Don’t Push That Send Button!” Harvard Manage- ment Communication Letter (August 2002): 4.

12. Susan Bixler and Lisa Scherrer Dugan, How to Project Confi- dence, Competence, and Credibility at Work: 5 Steps to Professional Presence (Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2001): 116.

13. Greg Wright, “Twitter with Care: Web 2.0 Usage Offers Few Second Chances,” Society for Human Resource Management website, July 30, 2009, retrieved June 28, 2010, from http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/technology/Articles/Pages/ TwitterCarefully.aspx.

14. Peter W. Cardon, Melvin Washington, Ephraim A. Okoro, Bryan Marshall, and Nipul Patel, “Emotional Intelligence and Norms of Civility for Mobile Phone Use in Meetings,” presentation at the Association of Business Communication 75th Annual Convention, Chicago, October 28, 2010.


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210 Part Three Principles for Business Messages

15. Beverly Langford, The Etiquette Advantage: The Unspoken Rules for Business Success .

16. Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981): 83.

17. Joan Waldvogel, “Greetings and Closings in Workplace Email,” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication online 12, no. 2 (2007), from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol12/issue2/waldvogel.html.

18. Kristin Byron, “Carry Too Heavy a Load? The Communication and Miscommunication of Emotion by Email,” Academy of Manage- ment Review 33, no. 2 (2008): 313.

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid.

21. Ibid.

22. Mei Alonzo and Milam Aiken, “Flaming in Electronic Communi- cation,” Decision Support Systems 36 (2004): 205.

23. Pearn Kandola, The Psychology of Effective Business Communica- tions in Geographically Dispersed Teams (San Jose, CA: Cisco, 2006): 5.

24. Norman A. Johnson, Randolph B. Cooper, and Wynne W. Chin, “Anger and Flaming in Computer-Mediated Negotiation among Strang- ers,” Decision Support Systems 46 (2009): 663.

25. Vivien K. G. Lim and Thompson S. H. Teo, “Mind Your E-manners: Impact of Cyber Incivility on Employees’ Work Attitude and Behavior,” Information & Management 46 (2009): 419.

26. Ibid: 419–425.

27. Johnson et al. “Anger and Flaming in Computer-Mediated Nego- tiation among Strangers”: 660–672.

28. Joe Robinson, “Email Is Making You Stupid,” Entrepreneur (March 2010): 61–63.

29. Ibid.

30. Ibid; Sally McGhee, “4 Ways to Take Control of Your Email Inbox,” Microsoft At Work website , retrieved July 15, 2010, from www.microsoft.com/atwork/productivity/email.aspx.

31. Maria Azua, The Social Factor: Innovate, Ignite, and Win through Mass Collaboration and Social Networking (Upper Saddle River, NJ: IBM Press, 2010).

32. Michael Chui, Andy Miller, and Roger P. Roberts, “Six Ways to Make Web 2.0 Work,” McKinsey Quarterly [online version] no. 1 (2010).

33. Simon Wright and Juraj Zdinak, New Communication Behaviors in a Web 2.0 World—Changes, Challenges and Opportunities in the Era of the Information Revolution (Paris: Alcatel-Lucent, 2008): 10.

34. Todd Henneman, “At Lockheed Martin, Social Networking Fills Key Workforce Needs While Improving Efficiency and Lowering Costs,” Workforce Management online (March 2010), retrieved November 20, 2010, from www.workforce.com/section/software-technology/feature -lockheed-martin-social-networking-fills-key-workforce/index.html.

35. Wright and Zdinak, New Communication Behaviors in a Web 2.0 World ; Andreas M. Kaplan and Michael Haenlein, “Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media,” Business Horizons 53, no. 1 (2010): 59–68; AON Consulting, Web 2.0 and Em- ployee Communications: Summary of Survey Findings (Chicago: AON Consulting, March 2009); Jacques Bughin, Michael Chui, and Andy Miller, “How Companies Are Benefiting from Web 2.0,” McKinsey Quarterly 17, no. 9 (2009); Andrew McAfee, Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges (Boston: Harvard Business Press, 2009); Avanade, CRM and Social Media: Maximizing Deeper Customer Relationships (Seattle, WA:

Avanade, 2008); Jennifer Taylor Arnold, “Twittering and Facebook- ing While They Work,” HR Magazine 54, no. 12 (December 1, 2009); Soumitra Dutta, “What’s Your Personal Social Media Strategy?” Harvard Business Review (November 2010): 127–130.

36. McAfee, Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges .

37. Maria Azua, The Social Factor: Innovate, Ignite, and Win through Mass Collaboration and Social Networking .

38. Wright and Zdinak, New Communication Behaviors in a Web 2.0 World .

39. Andy Beal and Judy Straus, Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online (Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Publishing, 2008).

40. “Intranet Blogs Hit Critical Mass: Most Employees Don’t Like to Blog, but They Like to Read Them,” retrieved November 20, 2010, from www.prescientdigital.com/articles/intranet-articles /intranet-blogs-hit-critical-mass.

41. Kaplan and Haenlein, “Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media”: 62.

42. Wright and Zdinak, New Communication Behaviors in a Web 2.0 World ; Sebastian Paquet, “Wikis in Business,” in Jane Klobas, Wikis: Tools for Information Work and Collaboration (Oxford: Chandos Pub- lishing, 2006): 99–117; Jane Klobas, Wikis: Tools for Information Work and Collaboration (Oxford: Chandos Publishing, 2006).

43. Daniel Nations, “The Business Wiki,” retrieved November 20, 2010, from http://webtrends.about.com/od/wiki/a/business-wiki.htm.

44. Richard McDermott and Douglas Archibald, “Harnessing Your Staff’s Informal Networks,” Harvard Business Review (March 2010): 83–89.

45. Paquet, “Wikis in Business.”

46. Goetz Boue, Don’t Say Web 2.0, Say Intranet 2.0 (London: Con- centra, 2009); Dutta, “What’s Your Personal Social Media Strategy?”; Beal and Straus, Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online .

47. Dutta, “What’s Your Personal Social Media Strategy?”

48. Josh Hyatt, “Building Your Brand and Keeping Your Job,” Fortune (August 16, 2010): 74.

49. Adapted from Dutta, “What’s Your Personal Social Media Strat- egy?”: 129.

50. Hyatt, “Building Your Brand and Keeping Your Job”: 71–76.

51. Greg Wright, “Twitter with Care: Web 2.0 Usage Offers Few Sec- ond Chances,” Society for Human Resource Management online.

52. Hyatt, “Building Your Brand and Keeping Your Job.”

53. Arnold, “Twittering and Facebooking While They Work.”

54. Ibid.

55. New York Times Corner Office Blog, “Communication,” retrieved June 15, 2010, from http://projects.nytimes.com/corner-office/ Communication.

56. Roger P. Roberts, “An Interview with MIT’s Andrew McAfee,” McKinsey Quarterly , no. 1 (2010).

57. Wright and Zdinak, New Communication Behaviors in a Web 2.0 World : 6.

58. “Online Etiquette & the Workplace,” Liberty Mutual The Respon- sibility Project website, retrieved July 6, 2010, from http://www .responsibilityproject.com/infographics/rp-survey-online-etiquette -the-workplace#fbid=67LBedVyvn7.

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Pa r

t f

o u

r Types of Business Messages Chapter 8 Routine Messages

Chapter 9 Persuasive Messages

Chapter 10 Bad-News Messages

Chapter 11 Crisis Communications and Public Relations Messages

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After studying this chapter, you should be able to do the following:

LO8.1 Describe how delivering routine messages impacts credibility.

LO8.2 Describe the process for developing routine business messages.

LO8.3 Construct routine business requests.

LO8.4 Compose routine sets of expectations.

LO8.5 Construct routine sets of directions.

LO8.6 Compose routine responses to inquiries.

LO8.7 Construct routine announcements.

LO8.8 Compose routine claims.

LO8.9 Construct routine appreciation messages.

LO8.10 Compose apologies.

LO8.11 Construct expressions of sympathy.

Learning Objectives

Routine Messages C

h a

p t

er E



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Chapter Case: Routine Emails at Smith & Smith Advertising

Who’s Involved

Bryan Atkins, account executive at Smith & Smith Advertising • Works extensively with clients to ensure they are satisfied with various advertising

campaigns • Leads and coordinates work with the creative teams working on these campaigns



LO8.1 Describe how delivering routine messages impacts credibility.

The vast majority of business messages are routine. In routine messages, you are dealing with straightforward information that does not require in-depth analysis, so you generally expect your readers to react positively, and you do not anticipate resistance. Most routine messages are simple. Yet, routine messages should not be treated as unimportant or inconsequential. They are the glue that holds together most coordi- nated business actions. In this chapter, we discuss common types of routine messages. Many of them primarily focus on work tasks, such as making requests, setting expec- tations, providing directions, making inquiries, providing announcements, and mak- ing claims. Other routine messages focus on maintaining and improving workplace relationships, such as showing appreciation, offering apologies, and expressing sym- pathy. The final two types of messages, apologies and expressions of sympathy, are unlike other messages in this chapter in that they occur far less frequently. However, like other messages in this chapter, they are fairly straightforward and require you to compose them fairly quickly. The day-in-and-day-out routine messages you send may be among the most im- portant for establishing your credibility in the workplace, especially early in your business career. Your approach to routine business messages strongly influences how others evaluate your responsiveness, reliability, attention to detail, commitment, and professionalism. Read the chapter case about a typical morning at work for Bryan Atkins, an account executive at an advertising firm. Throughout the chapter, you’ll see the routine messages Bryan completes before 11 a.m. While Bryan can answer most routine messages with emails of less than one paragraph, we focus on those examples that require slightly more effort. As a result, the examples are generally three to five paragraphs long.


Situation 1 (8 a.m.)

Bryan Requests a New Server Bryan arrived with a minute to spare for the weekly morning meeting with the executive management team. His one agenda item was to purchase a replacement for a soon-to-be-outdated server. One of the partners, Andrea Johansen, thought this was a straightforward matter but asked Bryan to put his suggestions in writing with details about the needed purchases.

Hear Pete Cardon explain why this



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Situation 2 (9 a.m.)

Bryan Responds to Messages in His In-Box from Employees and Prospects After the meeting, Bryan sat down at his computer to find 37 new messages from colleagues, clients, and prospects. Bryan thought all of the messages were important enough that he needed to respond to them within two to three hours. Several were most urgent:

• A member of the creative team, Barry Evermore, said he and his partner, John Anderson, had just finished an account and were waiting for new assignments.

• A new member of the creative team, John Anderson (Barry Evermore’s partner), was scheduled to take a company trip, but he was unfamiliar with travel procedures at Smith & Smith. He was asking Bryan how to set up his trip.

• A potential client emailed Bryan about services offered by Smith & Smith.

Situation 3 (9:30 a.m.)

Bryan Makes an Announcement As the chair of the social activities committee, Bryan wanted to send out an announcement.

Situation 4 (9:40 a.m.)

Bryan Takes Care of Overcharges from a Vendor This morning he noticed that a hotel had overcharged Smith & Smith by not applying a negotiated rate to several hotel stays for members of his creative teams. Bryan wanted to resolve the matter immediately.

Situation 5 (10:05 a.m.)

Bryan Shows Appreciation to His Creative Team During the morning, Bryan took a call from a recent client, Ana Galleraga, director of the local zoo. “Hey, Bryan,” she said. “Just wanted to let you know what a great success we’re having with the ad campaign you developed. Since we started putting up billboard ads and running the radio spots last month, we’ve increased participation in all of our community educational programs. We’re also getting lots of comments about how beautiful the billboards are. Please let everyone over there know what a great job they’ve done. And, we’d like to figure out how to use the campaign concept in our online marketing.” Of course, Bryan told her that the agency could help her out in that regard.

Situation 6 (10:20 a.m.)

Bryan Issues a Brief Apology Over the weekend, he worried about insensitive comments he made in last Friday’s leadership team meeting. Bryan had accused his colleagues of caring more about one of their clients than about their own employees. This particular client frequently made unreasonable requests, but Bryan and other members of the executive management team never pushed back because the client accounted for nearly one-quarter of Smith & Smith’s total revenues.

Situation 7 (10:45 a.m.)

Bryan Expresses Sympathy to a Longtime Client He wanted to write a sympathy card to his close client Felipe Bravo. Over the weekend, Felipe’s wife, Rosa, passed away after a long battle with cancer. Bryan and Felipe have worked together for nearly a decade, and Bryan wanted to express his genuine sympathy to Felipe.

Task 1 How will Bryan write a

routine request for a new server? (See the “Making

Requests” section.)

Task 2 • How can Bryan best set expectations for Barry and John’s

upcoming work schedule? (See “Setting Expectations.”) • How can Bryan most efficiently help John make travel

plans? (See “Providing Directions.”) • How can Bryan respond in a way that best answers the po-

tential client’s questions and maximizes the likelihood that he will become a client? (See “Responding to Inquiries.”)

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Task 3 How should Bryan

announce a social outing so that his colleagues will get all the key information rapidly? (See the “Creating Announcements” section.)

Task 5 How should Bryan go

about congratulating his creative team on

its excellent work? (See “Showing Appreciation.”)

Task 4 How should Bryan make

sure the excessive charges are refunded or credited? (See “Making Claims.”)

Task 7 How should Bryan

express condolences to his client? (See “Expressing


Task 6 How can Bryan make

amends for his inappropriate comments? (See the “Making

Apologies” section.)

Developing Routine Messages Since you will send and receive so many routine messages in any given business day, one of your primary goals is efficiency: You need to produce credible messages quickly. Excellent business communicators can develop routine written messages—even those that require several paragraphs—in a matter of minutes. The examples in this chapter should generally take 5 to 15 minutes to complete.

Typically, completing routine messages requires less time than other types of busi- ness messages. Also, compared to other types of business messages, routine messages require proportionately less time for planning and reviewing. Developing routine mes- sages quickly, however, does not mean abandoning the writing process of planning, drafting, and reviewing .

For most routine messages, you can accomplish the AIM planning process fairly quickly (see Figure 8.1 ). Because you generally are working with straightforward mat- ters and your audience is likely to respond positively, you will generally not need much time for audience analysis . Since you are typically dealing with straightforward matters, you don’t need much time for idea development . Developing your ideas is mostly a matter of identifying and gathering relevant, accurate, and up-to-date infor- mation. However, avoid the impulse to skip this step. Ask yourself questions such as the following: How would my audience want to receive this information? How much detail do my audience members expect?

The most important planning step is message structuring . Since routine messages are so common and your readers are likely overloaded with so many other messages and tasks, your primary challenge is to make sure your readers pay attention. There- fore, your message should be direct and front-loaded. The primary message should have ten words or fewer, and you should typically place it in the subject line of your email to immediately capture attention. Furthermore, the primary message should ap- pear in the first sentence or two of the message and again in the closing if your message is several paragraphs long.

In the body of the routine message, you should provide short paragraphs with re- lated details. To make sure your message receiver will comply, include all needed in- formation. Not only are readers less likely to comply when you don’t provide enough information, but you also lose credibility. Once you establish a reputation for providing

LO8.2 Describe the process for developing routine business messages.

Components of Routine Messages

• State the primary message (ten words or fewer).

• Provide details in paragraphs of 20 to 80 words.

• Restate the request or key message in more specific terms.

• State goodwill.

Routine Messages Chapter Eight 215

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216 Part Four Types of Business Messages

incomplete, overly general messages, your readers are less likely to pay close attention to your future messages.

As you draft the message, aim for a helpful, professional, and reader-centered tone. Focus on making the message easy to read. Readers expect to understand your primary message in under 10 to 15 seconds, so use short sentences and paragraphs. Design your message so readers can find information in just moments. Use bullets, numbering, special formatting, and external links to relevant information to highlight key ideas.

Your proofreading in the reviewing stage should take a minute or two. Since busi- ness professionals send so many routine messages each day and their content can be repetitive, they often do not take time to reread them. Avoid this impulse to hit “send” without rereading your messages. By rereading, you will make sure the content is com- plete and without errors. Even minor typos can distract your readers from complying with your messages.


The Writing Process for Routine Messages


Proofreading Feedback

Review Key Reviewing Steps

FAIR Test: Ensure that the message contains all needed information and that it is entirely correct.

Proofreading: Check for typos and any signals that you are not attentive to the needs of others.

Feedback: Request feedback from trusted colleagues when speaking on behalf of a team or unit.

Audience Analysis

Idea Development

Message Structuring

Plan Key Planning Steps

Audience Analysis: Consider exactly what information your audience needs and how they want to receive it.

Idea Development: Identify and gather relevant, accurate, and up-to-date information.

Message Structuring: Create a front-loaded, direct, complete, and detail-oriented message.

Draft Key Drafting Steps

Tone: Aim for a helpful, professional, reader-centered tone. Show respect for your readers’ time.

Style: Make your message easy to read. Use short sentences and paragraphs and action-oriented language.

Design: Use subject lines and formatting to let your readers process and find information immediately.


Style Design

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Routine Messages Chapter Eight 217

Since routine messages are straightforward and rarely sensitive, you generally do not need to ask for feedback from trusted colleagues. However, when you speak on behalf of your team, you might check with other team members to ensure they agree about the content. The most important aspect of the FAIR test is checking for accuracy—that is, making certain your information is accurate and reliable.

Making Requests You will make thousands of requests of others during your career, and others will make thousands of requests of you. Requests are the essence of people coordinating work efforts, buying and selling products and services, and maintaining work relationships.

Routine requests involve cases where you expect little or no resistance from mes- sage recipients. Like all routine messages, routine requests should contain clear and specific subject lines, often stating the entire request . As you reread the message before sending it, one question you’ll ask yourself is whether the message recipient will un- derstand exactly what to do.

For most requests, you will often use a portion of the message to provide the ratio- nale for the request. Since you expect a favorable response, you typically do not need to be particularly persuasive. However, justifying the request shows your professional- ism and attention to detail. It also helps a company maintain transparency by keeping written records of why certain decisions were made.

One primary goal for routine requests is to retain goodwill with the recipient. No one wants to feel bossed around, so make sure you achieve a positive, other-oriented tone. Also, when working with superiors, be careful about setting deadlines. Even in today’s flatter organizations, being bossy to the boss can be counterproductive. Finally, when making requests, showing respect for the recipient’s time goes a long way in maintaining goodwill.

In Bryan’s request memo to Andrea for a new computer server (see Figures 8.2 and 8.3 ), the request is routine because Andrea has already verbally committed to mak- ing the purchase. The primary goal is to convey the information in an easy-to-read, complete format. In the more-effective memo, Bryan asks for the purchase authoriza- tion within a specific time frame (within two weeks; preferably before the end of the week). He justifies the request with sufficient detail. Finally, he is direct but not bossy or domineering, which is important since he is writing to his boss.

Setting Expectations Working with others involves setting expectations, especially when you are in manage- ment and supervisory roles. Many young business professionals—especially first-time managers—are not comfortable with telling others what to do. They are nervous about overstepping their authority and disrupting a friendly feeling with subordinates. Yet, setting expectations is directly tied to your credibility and ability to foster interpersonal trust in the workplace. Dennis S. Reina and Michelle L. Reina have examined the nature of trust in hundreds of companies over the past few decades and say this about setting clear expectations:

A lack of clarity regarding expectations causes misperceptions and misconstrued intentions. When people’s expectations are not met, they may feel a range of emotions. They may feel disappointed, discounted, taken advantage of, angry, or hurt. The result may be distrust and feelings of betrayal. . . . When people don’t find out what is expected of them until they run into a wall, go down the wrong road, or fail to get a promotion or pay raise, it’s too late. In these kinds of situations, people may experience a range of emotions from disappointment to betrayal. 1

So, although setting expectations is often a routine matter, failure to do it can lead to lasting professional disappointments and breakdowns in working relationships.

LO8.3 Construct routine business requests.

LO8.4 Compose routine sets of expectations.

Components of Requests

• Make request. • Provide rationale. • Call to action.* • State goodwill. *Optional—appropriate at the end of lengthy messages

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218 Part Four Types of Business Messages

Three components are central in setting expectations for those you manage: describing responsibilities, providing deadlines, and discussing coordination. Describing responsibilities means designating tasks and work outcomes to certain employees, providing deadlines means setting out the timeline by which the work should be accomplished satisfactorily, and discussing coordination involves pro- viding guidelines for how employees should communicate and cooperate with one another. From time to time, you should also describe your own role and responsi- bilities to supervisees. When you do so, they see they are accountable to you and you are also accountable to them. This means you may need to occasionally own up to your own mistakes and accept responsibility when everything has not gone as expected.

Notice the differences between the less-effective and more-effective expectations messages in Figures 8.4 and 8.5 , in which Bryan makes a new assignment and sets out


Less-Effective Routine Request

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From: Bryan Atkins Mon, June 24, 2013 To: Andrea Johansen CC: Jenny Nguyen

Hi Andrea:

We need an additional server since our current one will soon be vulnerable to data loss if we experience a system failure. Currently, our server runs on a 32-bit processor. In the near future, Microsoft will release an update to Windows 2008 that will end the life of this server. If we cannot run the most current version of Windows, we will soon fall behind in security and technology. Jenny Nguyen from IT and I have determined that we can replace the soon-to-be-outdated server at minimal expense with a new server and an external drive. The proposed server will exceed the requirements of Windows Server 2008 R2 and allow for future expansion. This server will not require the purchase of an operating system (OS) or peripherals (keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc.). The Buffalo external storage will provide for a reliable backup solution for all the data housed on the server. We have priced the needed equipment at a total of $3,530.11 for a Dell PowerEdge 2970, Quad Core AMD Opteron 2.2GHz, 32GB RAM (8x4GB) 800MHz, 1.5TB (3x500GB) HDD, DVD-RW, Dual Embedded Broadcom NetXtreme II Gigabit Ethernet, RAID 5 ($3,031.08). We will also get a Buffalo LS-XH2.0TL 2TB External Storage ($314.99). With the estimated sales tax of $184.04, the final amount would be as specified above. If you could get us a purchase authorization by Friday, we could purchase the new equipment and install it over the weekend, which would avoid any network outage during workdays. The network would be fully functional and secure by Monday morning when everyone comes into work.


NAVIGATION is challenging: one

paragraph of 260 words.

Nondescriptive SUBJECT LINE.

REQUEST is difficult to find.

Components of Expectations

• Explain overall expectation.

• Describe responsibilities.

• Provide deadlines. • Discuss coordination. • State goodwill.

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Routine Messages Chapter Eight 219


More-Effective Routine Request

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TO: Andrea Johansen

FROM: Bryan Atkins

CC: Jenny Nguyen

DATE: June 24, 2013

SUBJECT: Request for Purchase Authorization for New Server

Can you provide a purchase authorization for a new server and external drive? We should purchase this equipment as soon as possible to keep our information system as secure as possible. I recommend that we purchase the new server within two weeks.

The primary reason we need an additional server is that we will soon be vulnerable to data loss if we experience a system failure. Currently, our server runs on a 32-bit processor. In the near future, Microsoft will release an update to Windows 2008 that will end the life of this server. If we cannot run the most current version of Windows, we will soon fall behind in security and technology.

Jenny Nguyen from IT and I have determined that we can replace the soon-to-be-outdated server at minimal expense with a new server and an external drive. The proposed server will exceed the requirements of Windows Server 2008 R2 and allow for future expansion. This server will not require the purchase of an operating system (OS) or peripherals (keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc. ). The Buffalo external storage will provide for a reliable backup solution for all the data housed on the server. We have priced the needed equipment as follows:

Dell PowerEdge 2970, Quad Core AMD Opteron 2.2GHz, 32GB RAM (8x4GB) 800MHz, 1.5TB (3x500GB) HDD, DVD- RW, Dual Embedded Broadcom NetXtreme II Gigabit Ethernet, RAID 5 $3,031.08 Buffalo LS-XH2.0TL 2TB External Storage $314.99 Estimated Sales Tax $14.04

Estimated Total Cost $3,530.11

Andrea, we would like to move forward as soon as possible with these purchases to make sure our system is secure. If you could get us a purchase authorization by Friday, we could purchase the new equipment and install it over the weekend, which would allow us to avoid any network outage during workdays. The network would be fully functional and secure by Monday morning when everyone comes into work.

NAVIGATION is easy: Paragraphs are 40, 70, 89, and 67 words long.

RATIONALE is specific and clear.

SUBJECT LINE is short (7 words) but effective.

REQUEST is stated clearly and up front.

the deadlines for Barry and John, two of his supervisees. The less-effective example violates the basic requirements of routine messages because it does not provide the key message clearly at the beginning. It is also difficult to read. In the more-effective mes- sage, Barry and John can grasp the key messages within seconds. They can process all of the information rapidly and understand the responsibilities, deadlines, and coordina- tion associated with these new accounts.

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220 Part Four Types of Business Messages


Less-Effective Example of Setting Expectations

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From: Bryan Atkins Mon, June 24, 2013 To: Barry Evermore, John Anderson

Hey Barry and John. You two will be our lead team for the following two projects: Jansen Slippers and Forrester Eyeglasses. Tentatively (depending on our discussions with each client over the next week or so and a few other factors), I expect the following deadlines over the next two months. For Jansen, we will present the preliminary concepts to the client on Friday, July 12, 2013. Then, we’ll present initial layout/copy on Wednesday, August 7. We’ll wrap up by completing the final layout/copy by 8-23. With Forrester, we are going to present preliminary concepts on Friday, July 19. We’ll do the initial layout and copy on Friday, August 16. We’ll finish the final layout/copy on Wednesday, September 4. We really value these new clients and want to make sure we get repeat business from them, so you two need to step it up and really be on your game. Stop by my office this afternoon at 3 and we’ll talk this over some more. Bryan

TONE is demanding and bossy.

NAVIGATION is challenging: Deadlines are buried.

SUBJECT LINE reveals little about the expectations.

Another common type of routine message provides directions for others. Messages that provide directions share many similarities with those that set expectations. The primary distinction is that directions typically include specific—often step-by-step— guidelines for accomplishing particular tasks.

Since describing step-by-step procedures is so specific, insufficient detail can frus- trate your readers. For routine matters, you are generally safe reviewing your own work and making sure it is complete. For more technical and complicated procedures, make sure you have several people test the procedures to find where you can better clarify the steps involved.

In messages with procedures and directions, make the steps stand out clearly by enumerating each one. This helps your reader keep track of progress completing the tasks. Steps that are written in narrative form within a paragraph are typically difficult to follow.

Notice the differences between the less-effective and more-effective messages in Figures 8.6 and 8.7 , where Bryan gives directions to John on how to make company travel arrangements. The less-effective example in Figure 8.6 has an un- helpful and careless tone, written almost entirely in passive voice. The message is abrupt and insufficiently detailed. Many readers will decode a meta message of “I don’t have time for you.” In the more-effective example in Figure 8.7 , Bryan provides clear directions by pasting the human resources policies into the mes- sage and inserting his own comments as additional guidelines and tips. He also tells John where to go for more information. In reality, Bryan could have simply emailed “check the HR intranet portal.” Yet, this more-effective message, written in just three to four minutes, is a strong sign of Bryan’s willingness to help John. Many readers will decode a meta message of “I want to help you out as much as possible.”

Providing Directions

LO8.5 Construct routine sets of directions.

Components of Directions

• State goal. • Give step-by-step

directions. • State goodwill.

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Routine Messages Chapter Eight 221


More-Effective Example of Setting Expectations

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Tentative Deadlines for Jansen Slippers and Forrester Eyeglasses;

Can You Meet This Afternoon?

From: Bryan Atkins Mon, June 24, 2013 To: Barry Evermore, John Anderson

Hi Barry and John,

We have just secured two new accounts: Forrester Eyeglasses and Jansen Slippers. You two will form our lead creative team on these promising accounts. I recommended you for these accounts to the executive management team due to your excellent past work on fashion and clothing accounts.

Tentatively, I expect the following deadlines over the next two months:

Action Deadline Preliminary Concepts Presented to Jansen (F) July 12 Preliminary Concepts Presented to Forrester (F) July 19 Initial Layout/Copy Presented to Jansen (W) August 7 Initial Layout/Copy Presented to Forrester (F) August 16 Final Layout/Copy Completed for Jansen (F) August 23 Final Layout/Copy Completed for Forrester (W) September 4

I would like to stop by your offices later this afternoon to discuss priorities for these clients. Can we meet in Barry’s office at 3 p.m.? If that doesn’t work, how about 4 p.m. today? Let me know which time works best for you.


TONE is positive and upbeat.

COORDINATION to be addressed.


EXPECTATIONS stated clearly and immediately.

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222 Part Four Types of Business Messages


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