Kerr Book Cover 

The Bliss or Diss Connection? Email Etiquette for the Business Professional by Cherie Kerr has some potential so it slightly pains me to write a less-than-glowing review.   The book is really little more than a 136 page pamphlet with extremely large type, so large in fact, that I checked the covers more than once to see if the words “large print edition” were to be found.  Considering that the publisher, ExecuProv Press, is owned by Cherie Kerr then it stands to reason that many of the editing and flow problems I encountered went unaddressed.   No one wants to edit the boss or state that the following sentence “Let me tell you what else I think qualifies me to present the ideas in the following chapters. (pg. 5)” is less than reassuring to the reader.  Ms. Kerr repeatedly feels the need to enumerate why she feels qualified to write a how-to- manual, including tacking on a three page biography. 

The writing itself is much more suited for face-to-face and PowerPoint presentations, which would make sense, as Ms. Kerr is a public speaking consultant and amateur comedienne, whose specialty is just that.  The informal style along with misplaced humor made reading especially uneven and ‘clunky’ and I thought to myself more than once that this would make for an engaging seminar but it just wasn’t working for Ms. Kerr in print.

The message is what saves the book from complete oblivion and more than one person will be able to sympathize with the writer’s impetus for its’ creation.  While waiting for a flight to leave, Ms. Kerr was on her PDA looking over a daily email roundup her secretary sent in bulleted form when one of the bullets abruptly said that her cousin’s husband had died.  Not only was Ms. Kerr shocked that the secretary sandwiched this news in between such routine to-dos as “Janet wants to meet for lunch”, but that her sister had informed her of the sad news electronically. 

Most of the guidelines for maintaining ‘blissful’ emails are patronizingly basic; however, the underlying message of humanizing our communications is extremely important.  We have lost the personal touch and many times miscommunication and hurt feelings are a direct result of a person’s inability to properly communicate through new technologies.  Ms. Kerr’s assumptions about the generational differences and lack of etiquette knowledge in the current workforce are spot on.  Today’s youth are simply not taught proper grammar, spelling or writing etiquette.  Acronyms such as LOL, BRB and the like simply have no place in workplace communication.  Likewise, older workers need to understand that intent, sarcasm, and tone can and usually are, gleaned from seemingly innocuous email communications without there being the intent to do so.

Ms. Kerr gives many examples of the positive “bliss” or negative “diss” email to-dos which are usually helpful, but in the ‘Naughty or Nice’ chapter some were unintentionally humorous and others were just so poor that I wondered if some of the ‘Nice’ examples should have been reversed.  I found this particular glitch several times through the book which added to the awkwardness of the read.

I’m going to have to give Ms. Kerr a D+ with this latest installment in her business communication book series.  This book is really more of a written verbal presentation rather than a true etiquette manual and will probably have more success if marketed as a companion guide rather than stand-alone project.

The Bliss or Diss Connection? can be ordered through Ms. Kerrs web site.

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