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Sunday, September 28, 2008

New study - workers more likely to lie in emails

More frequent and calculated abuse of the truth in emails than with traditional pen and paper communications.

Lehigh.edu - A pair of recent studies suggest that e-mail is the most deceptive form of communications in the workplace - even more so than more traditional kinds of written communications, like pen-and-paper.

More surprising is that people actually feel justified when lying using e-mail, the studies show.

"There is a growing concern in the workplace over e-mail communications, and it comes down to trust," says Liuba Belkin, co-author of the studies and an assistant professor of management at Lehigh University. "You're not afforded the luxury of seeing non-verbal and behavioral cues over e-mail. And in an organizational context, that leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation and, as we saw in our study, intentional deception."

The results of the studies are reported in the paper, "Being Honest Online: The Finer Points of Lying in Online Ultimatum Bargaining." Belkin co-authored the paper along with Terri Kurtzberg of Rutgers University and Charles Naquin of DePaul University.

In one study, the researchers handed 48 full-time MBA students 89 dollars to divide between themselves and another fictional party, who only knew the dollar amount fell somewhere between 5 dollars and 100 dollars. There was one pre-condition: the other party had to accept whatever offer was made to them.

Using either e-mail or pen-and-paper communications, the MBA students reported the size of the pot - truthful or not - and how much the other party would get. Students using e-mail lied about the amount of money to be divided over 92 percent of the time, while less then 64 percent lied about the pot size in the pen-and-paper condition. The rate of lying was almost 50% greater between the two groups.

E-mailers also said they felt more justified in awarding the other party just 29 dollars out of a total pot of about 56 dollars. Pen-and-paper students were a little friendlier, however; on average, they passed along almost 34 dollars out of a misrepresented pot of about 67 dollars.

"It's not just that e-mailers were more deceptive," Belkin says. "It's that the magnitude by which they lied was significantly greater."

"Keep in mind that both of these media - e-mail and pen-and-paper - are text only. Neither has greater 'communication bandwidth' than the other," says Naquin. "Yet we still see a dramatic difference."

Looking for an opportunity to explain whether a shared sense of identity reduces an e-mailer's impulse to lie, the researchers set up a second, related study of 69 full-time MBA students. The results of that study indicated the more familiar e-mailers are with each other, the less deceptive their lies would be.

But they would still lie, regardless of how well they identified with each other.

"These findings are consistent with our other work that shows that e-mail communication decreases the amount of trust and cooperation we see in professional group-work, and increases the negativity in performance evaluations, all as opposed to pen-and-paper systems," explains Kurtzberg. "People seem to feel more justified in acting in self-serving ways when typing as opposed to writing." Perhaps most notoriously, emails seem linked to a greater penchant for "flaming" - sending messages that are offensive, embarrassing, or rude.

But in trying to account for the difference between two communication modes that appear similar, the researchers surmise in their report that people may "feel written documents carry stronger legal consequences than do e-mails, which feel fleeting in nature, despite the fact that they are actually harder to erase or contain. Thus, deception may be viewed differently in these two environments."

Most researchers agree that e-mail is a recent phenomenon and was first widely used in workplace communications beginning in 1994. Since then, organizational norms regarding e-mail use have evolved and are still murky.

"The study of industrial psychology and the evolving use of e-mail are presenting some interesting challenges for organizations across the board," says Belkin, who has studied organizational communications over the past few years. "We know it's a socially acceptable way to communicate, but how that translates in the workplace is a different story entirely."

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Hiring an Internet Marketing Consultant

The short answer to the question of when you need to hire an Internet Marketing/SEO Consultant to help you achieve success in the virtual marketplace is anytime you are running a business that you want to see succeed. This may not be feasible when you are in startup mode, but as soon as you have the financial resources you should consider getting some expert help in this area.

Many business owners get used to wearing many hats and doing everything themselves, at least in the beginning. The fact is that you can't possibly do everything yourself; there aren't enough hours in the day. At some point, you will need to bring in other people so you can focus on building the business, as opposed to doing everyday things that are necessary, but that don't generate any income.

What a Consultant Can Do for You

Less than one-quarter of all businesses hire a consultant to help them with their online presence. Those that do tend to have higher search engine rankings, which is key to driving traffic to a web site and increased sales. A ranking in the Top 10 would be ideal, since most Internet users don't go through more than the first couple of pages of search results to find the information they want.

If you don't know how to use keywords, meta tags, and other strategies to achieve a search engine ranking, hiring someone with the expertise you need makes perfect sense.You may already be working with an accountant, a lawyer,and a business banker, so why don't you bring in an Internet Marketing expert, too? This is another professional who can help you achieve success.

How to Find the Right Consultant for Your Business

The Internet Marketing consultant you work with is going to be acting as a guide and you may need to contact a few of them before you find someone you are interested in working with. In short, you want someone who shares your vision for your business and who you click with. If there isn't a certain amount of chemistry, trust, and mutual respect, you are not going to be able to work effectively as a team.

You will also want to find out about the person's level of experience. Find someone who has worked with companies that are similar to yours in size and focus. A person who has worked for large corporations only may not be the best fit for a startup.

Ask for references and contact each one to find out more about what working with that consultant is like. You will also want to see if you can find other previous customers who are not being given as references to see if they have a different recollection of their experience working with that person.

As always before working with someone new, take the time to check them out with the Better Business Bureau online to see if there are complaints and if they were resolved satisfactorily.

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