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  Culture  
     
  How is e-mail perceived in the U.S. work environment?
 
  E-mail is perceived as a productivity enhancer. Americans have long since gotten over the novelty aspect of e-mail and are using this system as a standard communication tool. Don't even dream of a business card without an e-mail address! Whether you need to send a price quotation to a customer, remind someone about the time of a meeting, or answer technical questions, e-mail is widely used. Some customers will even ask that you use only e-mail to communicate with them. There are several reasons for the widespread use of e-mail:
  • It is often preferred instead of a phone call
  • You don't get interrupted in your work
  • You can dedicate a specific time to read your messages
  • E-mail provides a written record of events
  • Files, documents, and images can be included as e-mail attachments
Statistically, processing a business e-mail (or replying to an e-mail) takes one fifth of the time that it would take to cover the same content in a phone discussion, and it's less expensive. In addition, when you send an e-mail, you can copy several people without requiring them to be available for a conference call.
However, it is usually agreed that e-mail cannot replace a face-to-face meeting, especially when the subject matter is complex.
As a result, e-mail in the U.S. is very informal and heads straight to the point. No "How are you today?" or similar conversation starter is really necessary. (Please note that this kind of opening is not improper in e-mail, but neither is it mandatory). An e-mail to confirm an appointment can typically be limited to "Hi Bob, just wanted to confirm our meeting at 10 AM on Friday in your office. Could you please send me directions? Regards, Bill." Get straight to the point in your e-mail. If you don't, your messages will most likely be ignored. (One out of three American managers claims he is flooded with e-mail.)
Reply promptly to all e-mail you get from your customers, even if all you have to say is "Hi Bob, thanks for your message. I will investigate your questions and get back to you tomorrow. Thanks, Bill." In American culture, replying quickly is an important point in showing that you care.
Using upper case inside an email has to be done carefully. The whole word in upper case generally means that you're very upset and this does not match a working atmosphere. Finally, do not use the tracking option called "Request a read receipt for this message" for all of your emails. This may be understood like a lack of trust by the recipient.
 
     
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