Douse those flaming e-mails :-) |

Douse those flaming e-mails :-)

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer

Mary Groves receives plenty of flaming e-mails. You know the ones: a co-worker or business associate sends an ALL CAPS or !!! message full of perceived wrongs and misdeeds, to which you usually respond with an equally venomous electronic reply.

Or, you just weep over your morning cup of coffee and wonder where the miscommunication began.

When Groves, of Carson City, gets these e-mails she files them away.

And when classes start again at the University of Nevada, Reno, she will exhume the e-mails and distribute them to her students. Groves teaches business communication, and e-mail etiquette is one of her most important lessons.

“The problem with e-mail and any written communication is that you’re missing 93 percent of communication,” Groves says. “You only get 7 percent in writing and the rest is non-verbal. On the telephone, you can get the tone of voice, but in writing there isn’t any thing.”

That concern spurred the development of what professionals call “emoticons.” These are emotional icons that evolved to communicate what a receiver would normally perceive from facial expressions. It just requires a little spatial recognition.

Some e-mail programs even recognize emoticons and translate them into little cartoon smiley faces, or faces shedding big fat tears.

So, what’s wrong with righting wrongs over e-mail?

“It’s impersonal and too informal,” says Groves. “They don’t take the time to think about how their audience is going to react.”

Words have the power to illuminate or completely muddle an already tense situation. The knee-jerk e-mails are usually associated with “venting,” or catharsis.

Want to avoid setting the office aflame? Try these tips:

• Go back through and read the e-mail and think about your audience. Ask yourself “could I be misunderstood in this?” “How would I feel if I got this e-mail.”

• Watch your use of punctuation and capitalization. Both can often send rude waves over the Web.

• Remember your professionalism. Adults speak over the phone or in person about delicate matters that could injure or offend. Teenagers settle disputes over My Space.

• If you feel justified in writing an e-mail to vent frustrations, chances are good that you shouldn’t send it. You may feel better, but your audience may be left wondering how you misunderstood them.

• Don’t send anything in anger. “It’s so easy to send it off and to heck with the precautions,” Groves says.

• Save it; don’t send. When you cool off go back through it and decide what really needs to be sent. Or talk to the co-worker over the phone or in person.

• Recipients of these e-mails should put themselves in the place of the writer. What brought about their response?

Remember, heated arguments in the conference room may only last a few hours. E-mails can be eternal.

Area businesses, from small firms to large corporations, who have ‘weird’ items they no longer want or need can enter them in the Weirdest Junk Contest sponsored by 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

Don Bruce, the Carson City franchise partner, said the winner of the contest will have up to one large dump truckload – 15 cubic yards – of weird junk hauled away for free. This does not include hazardous waste.

It can include scrap metal, old furniture, construction debris, odd items like industrial stoves or business displays.

The 1-800-GOT-JUNK? contest runs through Oct. 4 when Bruce and the official judges announce the winner at 2:30 p.m., in their booth at the Northern Nevada Regional Business and Tech Expo at the Nevada Appeal building, 580 Mallory Way.

For information on the expo visit

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.