I've wondered this frequently in the past few months. It seems to me that both the informality, and the speed with which one can communicate by e-mail these days has led to more and more inappropriateness in all such correspondence, but particularly in business communications. A couple of examples from my job:
Part of my job consists of recruiting and hiring nurses and docs. I get both unsolicited resumes/letters of inquiry and in response to on-line postings I have placed. Some of the letters kind of stun me. I appreciate the convenience of email, trust me, and believe it is intrinsically a less formal mode of communication than a hard-copy letter would be, which is fine. I'm not such a terribly formal person.
But I get notes from people that read as though they're IM-ing their best buddies! One such letter started out well enough, from a nurse who wanted to "know about the job." Well, the job is kind of complicated, and I'm not willing to go into a lot of detail unless I first know she's qualified (I get a LOT of unqualified candidates). I asked her to send me her resume to review. She rattled back, "What is the salary? What are the hours? What are the benefits?" No please, or thank you, or salutation or signature. I deleted this and never responded. I figure if someone can't write a polite email to a potential employer, she's not going to be so great with patients or coworkers either.
Other people actually argue with me about whether or not they're qualified for the job, and the tone of their emails gets rather nasty at times.
Another part of my job is as a corporate supervisor for 14 outlying clinics and a staff numbering over 500. My colleagues, my boss and I have noticed lately that some of the emails we're getting from the clinic nurses are borderline-to-outright rude---angry, argumentative, inflammatory. Maye I'm naive, but since when is this an okay way to talk to your BOSS? Unless you're looking to be fired? Which clearly, most of these nurses aren't, because in the last few weeks, when we have replied that their letters are inappropriate--they act surprised, then apologetic.
What do you think? Is it TOO easy to fire off rude or reactive emails you later regret? Have you noticed people being ruder or off-puttingly casual in business communications? I'm curious to hear other people's views.
May 6, '02
Perhaps some have never learned basic manners. When I email some one such as yourself I am very conscious of what and how I say things.
I am curious, I have this thing about writing proper thank you notes. I gave a speech last week on this. In it I assumed many job applicants write them, but I wonder. How many actually do?
One reason I ask, is I have been lauded over and over for writing them. Do they just write when you make an offer or what?
Or do they, just send an e-mail thank you. (better than nothing but...)
Last edit by Agnus on May 6, '02