EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Life onboard a boat, whether sail or power, is in many respects different than life on dry land.

I was watching Ax Men on the History Channel a few years ago and the crew dropped a bolt on the ground from one of their pieces of equipment for which they didn’t have a replacement. Despite the “needle in the haystack” nature of this problem, they actually found it in the pile of logs and dirt.

Not so out on the water. When something goes “over the side,” it makes a brief sploosh sound and then it is GONE. I suppose if it were large enough and expensive enough you could call a diver, but that is generally not the nature of the things you drop.

In much the same way, the emails we write make a brief sploosh sound when you hit send, and just like the things I have lost over the side in my 35+ years of sailing, they are gone. For those of us who are “new” to computers, as in we started our careers when you actually had to send written correspondence, it is a frightening thing that we cannot mull over the missives we create, or retrieve them from the outgoing mailbox if we change our minds or decide to add or amend to our message.

There is also a lot of pressure today to deal with your email quickly because there is so much of it. I personally get over 100 messages a day that I actually have to do something with.

What I am going to suggest to everyone is that you need to THINK before you hit send. Put yourself in the shoes of the person on the receiving end. First, let me ask you if that person is actually going to recognize who you are by your email address of [email protected]. If they aren’t likely to recognize your email address, may I suggest you ALWAYS use an outgoing signature? And yes, I’m going to suggest that you use an outgoing signature EVEN on replies. (I am fully aware that this is not the default setting in most emails systems, but then I have always been known as a maverick.)

Let me also mention to those of you who appear to be new to email, that when responding to someone that you should always include the previous message. I always enjoy the mystery of the messages I get that have no outgoing signature AND just say “thanks!” Now I have a problem. Do I search my sent mail and see what I wrote, or do I write back and ask what I am being thanked for? Let me also suggest that it is bad practice to use an old message from someone to write them a new one. Is it so difficult or “expensive” to take out a clean piece of electronic paper?

Please know that at all times, the burden of communication is on the sender. If you are expecting others to “read between the lines,” think again. As a courtesy to my many friends, I do try to perform this service, but I must tell you it is often a difficult and thankless task. To write me and say that there was “a Controller job in a newsletter a few days ago, and do I know anything about it?” is so ridiculous a request as to not even warrant a response. Which newsletter? Could you help me out here and provide me a few details so I can find it in a particular newsletter. Could you do better and paste the whole thing into your email, or would that be too much trouble?

And for those of you with “smart phones,” or some other email capable device, may I humbly suggest that the boilerplate at the end of your message that says “Sent from a mobile device” doesn’t excuse you from any of the normal requirements of appropriate communication. If you choose to write messages from a device that requires you to type with your thumbs that is YOUR decision. Don’t burden others with that decision. And, you may be shocked to learn that you CAN actually put an outgoing signature on your messages. I realize you may have to read the instruction manual, but you might want to make this supreme effort.

The alternative is that on my end, I have a key on my computer that you call the delete key, but I call the “sploosh button.”

Regards, Matt

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