SUSU Philologist Told about Rules of Network Etiquette in Business Correspondence

Continuous communication on the Internet has become a new reality for students and teachers. The Internet has its own rules of conduct, which are called netiquette. A lecturer at the Department of Russian Language and Literature of the Institute of Media, Social Sciences and Humanities of South Ural State University Alena Tezina spoke about their basic principles.

- Could you please tell us what netiquette is?

– The term "netiquette" is short for "network etiquette", which appeared in the West back in the 80s. It means the rules of behaviour and communication on the Internet that most users adhere to.

- What is the difference between netiquette and etiquette?

– The rules of etiquette for oral and written communications are very similar, therefore, business correspondence on the Internet is not much different from face-to-face communication in business. However, certain there are requirements to the content and format of a letter, since its important component, the visual contact with the interlocutor, disappears in written communication. That is why you lose the ability to evaluate the non-verbal behaviour of the interlocutor and adjust the communicative strategy. Each letter is your face. You need to be much more careful with the wording, content and format. If you are meticulous about business correspondence, then the interlocutor will always be happy to receive your letter.

- According to the rules of netiquette, strict requirements apply to business letters. Are there any requirements for an answer to such a letter?

– The main requirement is that you must respond to the letter within 24 hours. Of course, it is not always possible to give a full answer in this period of time, in which case a short message should indicate the time frame for a full response to the business letter. Ignoring messages does not comply with the rules of netiquette.

- Maybe in this case you need to set the deadline for the answer in the letter?

– The deadline confines an interlocutor within the strict limits, so this situation may be incorrect in relation to your partner, especially if you communicate with a colleague who is with you on the same position in the team. Therefore, I would not recommend doing this. It is quite another matter, if you are in a hierarchical relationship. The boss can indicate deadlines both for the execution of his orders and for the answers to his letters. A teacher who is in the position of a leader in the educational process, all the more, can indicate time limits for answers to the business letters, if they contain tasks or guidelines for performing any educational tasks.

- If there is still no answer, when can you send a follow-up letter?

– You should not flood the interlocutor with letters, since this will be perceived as pushiness and will cause unnecessary negative emotions. If there is no answer, it is appropriate to wait for two days, and on the third day, call and clarify whether the letter has been received and when the answer will be given.


Photo: A. Tezina, lecturer at the Department of Russian Language and Literature of the Institute of Media, Social Sciences and Humanities

- How to format a response to a business letter correctly?

– The answer is also a business letter, so the requirements for it are similar. A sign of good manners (or bon ton) is to make a link to your partner’s letter. You can quote phrases to which you reply, or you can leave the full text of the interlocutor’s letter under your response text. In this case, you save the time of the recipient.

- Is business correspondence conducted only during working hours, or you can send a letter at any time?

– It is incorrect to send e-mails in off hours. Moreover, you should not write the letter a few minutes before the end of the working day. This guarantees stress to your business partner: he or she will have to work late or bring the work home. In addition, your message may be the last in the list of other letters the next morning, therefore, it may be lost in the bustle of urgent tasks of the new day. Of course, it is also important to take into account the fact that your interlocutor is in a different time zone. But in case you write in off hours, you cannot expect and demand an immediate response.

- Who gets the last word in business correspondence?

– Everything is simple here. The same rule applies here as in a business telephone conversation: the communication is ended by the person who initiated the correspondence. In the last letter, it will be correct to thank the partner for the time taken and say goodbye. It is important to remember that during the day we greet and say goodbye once, so you do not need to start each letter with a greeting, if you correspond within one day.

- What advice can you give to participants of business correspondence?

– It is important to remember that your interlocutor is just a human, like you, therefore, you need to treat him or her with respect and in the right manner. In business correspondence, it is important to follow all the rules of speech etiquette that you would adhere to in face-to-face communication. We enjoy communicating with polite, positive, creative, but serious people. Become such a person for your business correspondence partner, and then your success is guaranteed.


Daria Tsymbaliuk; photo: library of Alena Tezina,
Contact person: 
Daria Tsymbaliuk, tel.: 272-30-11
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