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4.13.2017

E-mail Professionalism

There's no escaping it - we live in the digital age. When we communicate with each other, more often than not it's through texts and emails. For HOA Boards, it's vital that a sound and comprehensive email policy be adopted and followed. Consider the following scenarios and decide how your Board will respond.

  • Complaints from association members: Decide who will respond to general complaints that come from an association member but are emailed to the entire board. With no clear policy, it's entirely possible that every board member will respond - often with conflicting answers and contradictory information. That will go a long way to quickly undermining the Board's effectiveness and trust factor. The other extreme is that nobody responds, assuming incorrectly that somebody else will. The results are no different than the first scenario.
  • Separate Board and Personal Emails:  As emails are part of your association's official records and books, it's advisable for each board member to have an email address specifically designated for association business and communications. Keep business and personal affairs separate.
  • Communication with attorneys and professional advisors: Attorney's love getting emails from clients - because they consider them billable events and start racking up the hourly rates. The Board should be very clear on who communicates with attorneys and professional advisors. And you might be surprised to learn that the well-known "attorney/client privileged information" rules do not apply to emails between Board members and attorneys and are therefore open to discovery by opposing parties in a lawsuit. Exercise extreme caution and judgment before firing off any communication to an attorney.
  • Watch Your Email Tone: One of the hardest things about emails and text messages is the reader has no way of discerning the intended tone of the sender. Caution must be exercised. IF YOU TYPE IN ALL CAPS PEOPLE WILL THING YOU ARE YELLING AT THEM. Sarcasm may not translate in the humorous way you intended because the reader can't see you winking or smiling. Short, one-word answers can come off as cold when you're really just trying to be efficient.  Write in professional, polite and complete sentences. You'll save yourself a lot of headaches that way.
  • Avoid Common Email Mishaps: We could all retire if we had a nickel for every time someone hit "Reply All" or let Outlook autofill the wrong email address and inadvertently sent (often sensitive) information to the wrong people. Be careful out there. Take a breath and double check before hitting send. You'll be glad you did.
  • Spellcheck is Your Friend: Want to make yourself look really stupid - send out an email with misspelled words. It quickly demonstrates to your reader that not only can you not spell, you don't even have the good sense to use spellcheck. It's a wonderful tool. Let it help you!
  • Responding to Venom: We've all seen 'em - those unfortunate emails that amount to nothing more than venomous toxic rants from an angry association member whose emotions are out of control. You may choose to just ignore them all together but a wiser choice may be to use a simple and effective auto response such as: "Thank you for your email. The Board will review your concerns and issue a response if we determine one is needed."
  • Emails and Abbreviations: They're fun, they're cute, and they have no place in professional emails from Board members. Resist the urge to write in text code and adorn your message with smiling faces. No LOLs, no YOLOs and definitely no WTFs!

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