Thursday, July 26, 2012

How to e-mail your college professor

Actual e-mail received (and illustrated) by Dr. Janet Frick

See that e-mail up there? That's an example of how not to address your college professor.

We talked with UGA Psychology Professor  Dr. Janet Frick, about e-mail etiquette, as the above sample is hardly unique among all she's seen in over 15 years of teaching.

When she started her career, e-mail from students was more formal and thoughtful, possibly because at the time, "it was much more effortful for students to have access to a computer," she says. 

But over the past couple of years, Frick has noticed a change in the quality of e-mails she gets from her students.

"Today's undergraduates are a little 'Post E-mail,'" she says. "They are more likely to text. That engenders a quicker style, a  less formal style, a  familiarity." And they transfer that style to their e-mail.

It pays to be respectful in your e-mails for many reasons. For instance, Frick admits that students with solid e-mail etiquette stand out, that they appear to "be more polite, take school more seriously, and approach school as a professional environment."

Here are some quick tips from Frick on how to convey that respect to your professors:

• Make the subject line informative—instead of "hey," try, "Help needed with online quiz."

• Use the proper address. Unless you've been told otherwise by your instructor, always address them as "Dr." or "Prof." While it's a safe bet to call many high school teachers "Mr." or "Ms.," some college-level instructors bristle at that. Never use "Mrs.," even if you know your instructor is married—she may not have the same last name as her partner.

• Introduce yourself. Professors teach a lot of classes with a lot of students. Keep it short and helpful: "Hello, this is Joe Smith, I'm in your intro class at 11 a.m."

• Keep the tone respectful. Imagine you are writing the parent of a brand-new boyfriend or girlfriend.

P.S. - Frick gently responded to the student who e-mailed her the above sample, making suggestions on how to improve his next e-mail to her. The student thanked her for her advice!


Friday, July 20, 2012

National Cell Phone Courtesy Month

July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month! 

Etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore founded the month in 2002, seeing the need to address proper cell phone use. Check out Whitmore's blog on this year's National Cell Phone Courtesy Month for some great tips, plus a video that illustrates how one should not use their phone during a date!

 Jacqueline Whitmore

Last year, we interviewed Whitmore about overall cell phone courtesy. In the past, we've also discussed when you should turn your phone off

This year, we're going to get to the heart of what cell phones provide: communication, and how to make it most effective when you have to leave a message.

That's right—voice mail! First of all, let's talk about...

The outgoing message
Think of your outgoing message as your own personal assistant. Personalize the message, keeping it current and updated as necessary. Remember to speak clearly and slowly. Keep the message friendly, but concise—a far more effective approach than a meandering "novelty" greeting that may seem hilarious at first, but quickly becomes annoying (especially if someone is trying to reach you in an emergency).

Leaving a message
Be brief but specific about why you're calling, and repeat your phone number at least twice. Include good times for them to return your call, but encourage them to call at their convenience. (If you're needing a quick response, you could say "earliest convenience.")

Use the voice mail!
And let others use it, too. If the phone rings while you're busy and there's no obvious emergency, let it ring and go to voice mail. You can excused yourself and check messages when it's appropriate. (If there's an emergency, you'll get multiple calls and/or texts in a row—go ahead and answer in these cases!

And, in general...
Always identify yourself with both your first and last name.

Before you get the conversation started, ask if it's a convenient time to talk, and offer to call later if it's not.

If you're calling to get information, have paper and pen ready to take notes.

Remember your tone of voice, whether you're speaking to a person or leaving a message.

After someone has helped you over the phone, feel free to thank them with a follow-up note. E-mail is fine, but getting an actual note in the mail is a special treat these days—as is a well-mannered phone call or voice mail!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tipping the movers

If you've been packing, you know what this is.

We’ve talked about tipping before. But what about tipping movers to help you relocate all of your stuff? It’s a tricky subject, but we’re here to help.

Movers provide a personal service—they are doing what many people could possibly do themselves. While movers themselves are professional, they do not offer a professional service in the way that, say, doctors and teachers do, and we do not tip doctors and teachers. So, do tip your mover!

But how much to tip? We suggest $25 per day. If they hook up your TV or similar appliances, add $5-10. For added kindness, offer bottled water, snacks, and the use of your bathroom!

What about tipping of the total bill? That gets complicated. Let’s start at a 10% tip. You could tip two movers $10 each on a $100 job. But if the two movers are working a $5,000 job, we don’t recommend tipping $500—$100 each is more reasonable.

Be sure to tip the same amount to each mover. And if you just have one bill (say, $100), present that one bill to all movers at the same time. Don’t simply give it to the one person who seems to be the most in charge and expect that it will automatically be shared.

And of course, be sure to thank the entire group when the job is done!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Etiquette & Adventure

We started July off right, teaching at the Joint Reserve Component Teen Leadership Summit, a Military Teen Adventure Camp held at a 4-H Center in Northeast Georgia.

These camps are a wonderful way to children of military families get together for a week of adventure and friendship. At this camp, it means rock climbing, a ropes course, white water rafting, hiking, archery, survival classes—and etiquette, of course!

Debra traveled to the camp as a guest instructor and taught teens from all over the country about handshakes, introductions, letter-writing…

…and the importance of treating each other with kindness and respect, something that comes in handy in both high adventure camping and everyday life!