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Expert Warns Managers

It’s been called one of the greatest business tools, but E-mail can backfire and hurt if used incorrectly, says local communication expert Mary-Ellen Drummond.

The Rancho Santa Fe resident spends about a third of the year traveling around the country, advising executives of some of the nation’s largest companies how to communicate better.

Drummond says people should think more than twice about what they send to others electronically, whether it is to co-workers, or people outside their firm.

“With the ease of forwarding E-mail and broadcasting voice mail messages, one seemingly innocent comment can be shared unknowingly with the wrong people and cause irreparable damage to one’s reputation, career and credibility,” Drummond says.

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She notes a large corporation recently was forced to settle a lawsuit brought against it when a confidential message concerning an employee was intercepted and forwarded to everyone in the company.

“What one employee thought was funny, ruined another person’s reputation,” she said. “It cost that company a lot of money.”

Drummond advises using common sense and watching language when sending E-mail.

“Make it brief, succinct, and ask yourself, ‘Would I mind it if anyone else ever read this,’ ” she says. “Think your message through, and use the rule that when in doubt, leave it out.”

Before setting up her business, Polished Presentations, 11 years ago, Drummond built a successful career in sales and as a trainer for Bristol Meyers. Her latest book, “A Women’s Way to Success,” is due out in the fall.

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