I opened this chapter talking about e-mail, a medium that has caused us to reexamine how we communicate with one another. Consider the sheer volume of e-mail we deal with every day. In 2001, Rogen International, in conjunction with Goldhaber Research Associates, completed a study of e-mail usage in the workplace. They found that, on average, employees send twenty e-mails and receive thirty e-mails daily—amounting to about two hours of work time spent on e-mail alone. I wouldn't be surprised if that number has tripled by the time you read this book.
As I noted before, e-mail has allowed us to reach more people more easily than ever before. In many ways it has greatly increased workplace efficiency—all you have to do is cc: your department and you're covered. The problem is that the other means of communication haven't gone away. You still have to check your voicemail and you still have meetings to attend. So while e-mail may save time in other areas, it has served to increase the information overload that people face today. There is also the question of quality. We have to make sure it cuts through the clutter. And while we're enthralled with the convenience and speed of e-mail, we can't neglect our responsibility in ensuring its value as a tool for effective and empathetic communication, despite its lack of visual and auditory clues.
Therefore, consider a few important guidelines when using e-mail. First, make your messages clear and to the point, and consider how it would appear in a more formal setting. Due to the nature of the medium—the format encourages speed, not quality—e-mail brings out the worst in us as writers. Second, respect the unique properties of e-mail and their effects on your tone. For example, you may think you're being succinct and direct, but others may view your message as curt and abrasive. Third, consider your audience and remember that e-mail can be easily forwarded. Finally, know when not to e-mail. Never reply to an e-mail in anger, and don't use e-mail to convey a message that would best be delivered in person.
From http://www.rogen.com, http://www.goldhaber.com.