Aug 29, 2009

Increased data loss risk for companies

Proofpoint, Inc. found that US companies are increasingly concerned about a growing number of data leaks caused by employee misuse of email, blogs, social networks, multimedia channels and even text messages.

According to the June 2009 study of 220 email decision makers at US companies with more than 1000 employees, organizations continue to embrace preventative measures -- some more drastic than others.

The pain of data leakage has become so acute in 2009 that more US companies report they employ staff whose primary or exclusive job is to monitor the content of outbound email (33 percent, up from 15 percent in 2008).

In addition, companies are regularly ordered to produce employee email as part of legal actions, exposing its contents to outside scrutiny.

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of large US companies report that employee email was subpoenaed in the past 12 months.

When US companies investigated the exposure of confidential, sensitive or private information via email, blogs, multimedia channels, and/or social networks, the end result for the offending employee was generally very bad news.

Email still the #1 threat: 43 percent of US companies surveyed had investigated an email-based leak of confidential or proprietary information in the past 12 months. Nearly a third of them, 31 percent, terminated an employee for violating email policies in the same period (up from 26 percent in 2008).

Read an executive summary of Proofpoint's 2009 Research.

Aug 25, 2009

Watch out media multitaskers: Your brain is in danger

The increasing number of sources from which we get information at the same time, however, may be compromising our ability to focus on any of it and could actually be making it harder for us to multitask effectively.

With e-mails, phone calls, text messages and online social media all competing for our attention, often against a background of television, radio or music, our brains can reach information overload, research has suggested.

This appears to distract us from concentrating on particular activities, and also limits the ability to switch from one job to another — a key element of the multitasking that media omnivores often claim as their great strength.

The study, led by Clifford Nass, of Stanford University in California, is among the first to investigate whether cognitive abilities might be affected by the range of media that people regularly use. The results are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“With the diffusion of larger computing screens supporting multiple windows and browsers, chat and SMS, and portable media coupled with social and work expectations of immediate responsiveness, media multi-tasking is quickly becoming ubiquitous,” the scientists wrote. “These changes are placing new demands on cognitive processing, and especially on attention allocation.”

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Aug 22, 2009

If you want to improve written communication skills

A decade ago it seemed an exaggeration to say that a person without a minimum of knowledge in Office (Microsoft) would have many difficulties finding a job; today this is a reality.

Perhaps it also sounds exaggerated to say that in five years it will be difficult to find a job if we don’t have excellent written communication skills (remember that knowing how to write doesn’t mean knowing how to communicate).

It is essential to expand our vocabulary and improve the way in which we structure and present information.

Go to writing courses and seminars. If you can, get a post-graduate degree in social communication, with emphasis in written journalism: given its objectivity and amplitude, the journalistic style is a good writing example to follow.

Have practical books and writing guides on hand. When we write, it is always useful to have references to look for synonyms or to be sure about the meaning of certain words.

Resources I recommend:
* The Element Of Style
* The Associated Press Stylebook
* The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage

By constantly expanding our vocabulary we avoid "fillers" and common place words, and dodge being repetitive or rhetorical. In other words, the larger is our vocabulary, the less "blah blah blah" we write.

But be careful: some people use their vocabulary to write in an incomprehensible manner. The purpose of having a broad vocabulary is not to show-off our knowledge, but to have the resources to communicate in the simplest, more efficient way possible.

If you want to improve your professional reputation and have better sales opportunities, you need to be more aware and observant of your permanent personal marketing process through e-mail.

Aug 18, 2009

Senders must constantly cultivate trust and credibility

If people make a special effort in their written communications, they can nourish enough trust, and create a wide contextual framework so that e-mails convey the affinity necessary to be effective, as in fact occurs in many of our e-mail communications.

But for this to happen, senders must constantly cultivate trust and credibility with their interlocutors (key elements of personal marketing), and improve their writing skills so that they can compensate for the non-verbal components of interpersonal communication.

On the other hand, the quality of attention that our e-mails receive, and the attitude of our recipients when they read them are for the most part values determined by the positioning we cultivate as professionals and users of e-mail.

Our positioning (or reputation) as senders determines our capital of credibility, trust, and ability to generate positive responses to our requests, and the quality of our written messages increase or reduce that capital.

As with products, services, companies or institutions, people are more prone to respond positively to people that make them feel better through e-mail, due to satisfactory and positive experiences in the exchange of information.

What is the positioning we form of a person who sends many messages every day, or of the person who never responds?

What is our opinion of co-workers whose messages are difficult to understand, or who send lengthy messages, or always send "chain letters"?

Each e-mail affects your personal reputation...

Aug 13, 2009

Essential requirements for written messages

Body language references are essential to understand the foundations of an effective "mediated communication" through e-mail, a challenge we face to convey affinity and empathy in writing.

The absence of non-verbal and physical clues in written communication makes it substantially more difficult for the recipient to receive the sender’s key information regarding emotions and attitudes. This determines the perception and final interpretation of the written message.

When we communicate by e-mail with people we know, the process is different than with strangers.

Knowing our recipients and senders provides more contextual information about their personality, affinities, communication styles, and intentions.

Therefore, e-mail exchanges have a social and relational framework that facilitates understanding and effective communication.

But there are many cases of misinterpretation, confusion, and misunderstanding of written messages between people that know each other well.

Even people who care for each other can easily badly judge the implicit intention of a written message.

However, people can adapt to the media and make it efficient. There are social-emotional and relational expressions that not only depend on non-verbal communication clues.

That is why many people can in many cases use e-mail very productively as a communication channel. They adapt their language and verbal style to the demands of written communication, according to their intentions.

Do's for email productivity (best managment practices)

Aug 8, 2009

Improving e-mail usage at the workplace

Million American adults use e-mail at work, and email use has become more pervasive with each passing year.

Most work emailers use e-mail daily to communicate and share information with colleagues and clients.

While email use is necessary and often beneficial, many organizations fail to see the serious dangers email poses when employees aren’t trained to handle e-mail professionally.

After all, every e-mail sent from a work email account reflects directly on the organization and remains on servers and networks even after it is deleted from an Inbox.

Inappropriate e-mails —whether sent intentionally or forwarded to an unknown and unintended audience— can mutilate the reputation your organization’s worked so hard to establish.

Believe it or not, your e-mails and those of your employees reflect directly on the sender and his or her employer.

Email at the workplace explains the best practices that will ensure professional and effective email communication.

It also covers the dangers and pitfalls of improper or haphazard email use and instructs employees how to craft precise and purposeful business emails.

Email at the workplace provides the basis for an effective email usage policy for your organization, and lets you easily and quickly:

* Prepares employees to craft effective & purposeful emails.

* Show the factual consequences of e-mail misuse.

* Illustrate how to handle e-mail professionally.

* Teaches how to avoid common e-mail blunders & oversights.

Buy now on

Aug 3, 2009

It is more difficult to master written communication

There is no doubt that e-mail provides transcendental advantages as a tool for communication, work, study, research and filing, and its influence is growing in all aspects of people’s lives, in all countries and cultures.

However, the process of assimilating e-mail has occurred with insufficient preparation. In some cases, training is provided on a specific e-mail program (for example "Outlook").

In others, there are "policies" on the use of e-mail, but they mainly have to do with the need for security and control of computer systems.

We assume that to know how to write is to know how to word things correctly, and that it is enough to communicate efficiently in writing.

Other times we think that if we write as we speak, we will be understood. However, it is more difficult to master written communication than verbal and non-verbal communication.

E-mail has a great influence in our personal image. The number of messages we send, the way we write them, their length, and even the time when we write them says a lot about the quality of professionals we are.

How fast we respond to messages, if we read them carefully, and even if we send a copy to another recipient, are some of the aspects that contribute to create a public reputation of our work performance.

Read more about e-mail productivity...