Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Poor Email Etiquette

One thing I have noticed now that most of my email is coming from my colleagues in the Caribbean is that there is a relative lack of sophistication when it comes to how email is used.

Email messages here in the region can often sound abrupt, sharp and even downright rude.

Often, my wife and I have to look at each other and say something to the effect that the person sending the email just does understand how to send email with different levels of "tone."

How do you adjust the tone of an email?

I remember getting an email from a friend of mine back in about 1994 which was WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS.

What they didn't know is that writing email in all caps is the email equivalent of shouting, and the effect on me was to wonder what I did to warrant this kind of reaction.

Beyond the choice of words, there are other ways to moderate the tone of an email, including:

-- the spacing between lines and words
-- the use of dashes
-- the length of paragraphs
-- the use of smiley faces and other semi-graphics
-- the use of abbreviations such ROFL (rolling on the floor
-- the opening lines
-- the closing lines
-- spelling

However, the point here is not to present a lesson in the proper use of tone, but instead to let a returnee or expat know that they need to pause for a moment when reading an email from someone in the region. They often don't tend to be offensive, or defensive or curt -- it's just a matter of not being as fluent as they could
be in this new medium.


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