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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Alone

Each of us - we walk alone,
Despite all the noise around,
Solitude - the only tie binding us together.

No one really close enough,
To claim a complete hold on me,
I live with, without, due to and despite you.

Nothing to envy, prove or seek
No one really knows better than me,
All remain amateurs when chance plays the game

Given freedom to just live
Nothing does seem to matter.
All there is to do seek and sate my self. Read More......

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Writing good emails at work

These are a few things to remember while you send an email at work. This may be especially helpful to fresh graduates at their first job.

Catch the attention of the reader with your subject - The subject line is how you capture the interest of the reader first - especially when you are mailing busier people in higher ranks, make sure your subject is clear and gives a good idea about the contents and its importance.

Keep your mail short but don't leave out important details - You don't have to set the context by explaining the whole story in your email. If you reply on the same thread, anyone can see what you are talking about. Keep your mail short and precise. Don’t beat around the bush or use verbose language.

Don’t get fancy with the formatting - Use bullet points wherever possible. Highlight important points by bolding them. Use easy-to-read fonts at a readable size – Arial or Times New Roman at 10 would do nicely.

Start with a salutation and end the mail with your signature - 'Hi ABC' or ‘Dear ABC’ are both quite acceptable these days. ‘Thanks’ or ‘With Regards’ or ‘Thanks and regards’ and followed by your name. Don’t send mails with just the content. As far as possible, address your mails to a specific person. Avoid ‘Hi all’ kind of mails unless to merely inform people about something. You can also share your contact details in your email signature to avoid people searching for phone numbers.

Mark a copy to all relevant people in your team – NEVER be the only person to know about some issue/requirement. If you aren't available for the day, someone else should be able to carry on with the work. Keep the relevant people informed about your work – this may include a peer or two as well.

Follow up on important emails with a phone call - If it is important, always follow up an email with a call. This impresses the importance of the issue in the receiver’s mind as well and ensures a quicker response.

Summarize large attachments in the body of the mail – When sending attachments, keep in mind the allowed size at your and the receiver's end. Check if the correct version is attached. Always include a short description of the attachment in the mail body – this will save people’s time.

Paraphrase important phone calls in an email - Sometimes, we discuss things over the call and proceed with the work. Are you sure you understood that requirement correctly? When you send an email putting down your understanding in black and white, you are reducing the chance of errors due to misunderstanding. This is important. Friends or not - no one likes to take the blame when things start to crumble. Make sure you don't have to take the blame either.

Use keywords in your subject line - Many times it happens that you need to search for an email months after it was sent. Instead of putting all the important things in a mail just titled 'Status', send a separate email with a more relevant subject line. You can always refer to the other mail in your status mail as well.

Keep a separate paragraph at the end to mention what you expect the reader to do - If you expect someone to give you specific details after reading your mail, then mention it in the mail. Most importantly, give a deadline by which you expect the reply.

Don’t spam mailboxes - Don't send inappropriate emails or forwards to your colleagues’ official ids. If you are thick friends, it may not matter. But people generally don't like their official mail box being spammed.

No tag lines please - All the fantastic sayings that you live your life by - please don't put them on your emails. Keep emails professional. There are other forums where you can use those lines.

ALWAYS review before you press send – Use the spell check option to avoid embarrassing mistakes. Press send only after you read through the mail once however long it may be.

Use the settings provided by your mail client – There are many options like return receipt setting, rules setting, creation of .pst to move mails from the server to your local machine, marking importance in mails, usage of flags etc. USE THEM. THEY HELP.

Set an out of office message when you are on planned leave – If you are going to be on leave for some day, make sure you let people know. Setting an out of office message helps if you are being contacted urgently by someone out of the blue.

Don’t share passwords through email - Strict NO. Get it encrypted or by phone call.

Reply to e-mails promptly - Prompt replies to emails is appreciated by everyone. Penning a few quick lines does not take too much time and gives a good impression with both peers and superiors.

These are things usually acquired by experience and they become second nature with time. Experience here refers to mistakes. Learn from mine rather than making some of your own.

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