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Email, often thought of as ultimate business tool, can actually slow decisions and be bad for business according to a new survey. The problem lies in a lack of email etiquette, a psychologist says.

The poll, which was taken across a sample of 750 workers from across Europe, picked out seven unforgivable sins of emailing. These are: ignoring the email, send-to-all, tactlessness, sloppiness, lying about getting an email, waffling and assuming that once sent, an email has been read.

Nearly 80 per cent of those surveyed resented having to chase up email responses, and over 60 per cent felt that this delayed business decisions. Sloppiness was even less popular, with 81 per cent of respondents reporting that badly spelled, or badly punctuated emails reflected badly on the sender.

Dr Peter Collett, one of the psychologists who worked on the UK Big Brother reality TV show, says the problems arise because email lacks the established social conventions of other forms of communication, like phone calls or meetings.

He told CNN:"Such is the pervasiveness of email that an increasingly high percentage of people, particularly in the business environment, only know us through this medium. What people forget is that email is no different from face-to-face interactions - first impressions count."

He argues that people base their opinions of each other on tiny, often irrelevant seeming pieces of information. Once a certain impression is formed, it is hard to change.

"If you use sloppy grammar, inappropriate tone or, most importantly, fail to reply, you risk damaging relationships extremely quickly - on many occasions without even realizing you're doing so," he said.

The survey was conducted on behalf of handheld maker palmOne. ®

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