EVER BEEN FLAMED? You probably have. Chances are it happened when you least expected it. When you sent a seemingly harmless e-mail to a colleague, business contact, friend or relative and received a reply that turned the air blue and your face red with embarrassment or anger. Flaming is the term given to 'electronic verbal abuse' and experts say most people fall victim to it at some point. In many cases, we may have fanned the flames by not minding our net manners. In short, we've annoyed someone by not minding our net Ps and Qs. Examples of e-mail bad manners include typing in capitals, sending large attachment that jam inboxes, or failing to respond to an e-mail. They're the electronic equivalent of shouting and yelling, being inconsiderate or giving someone the cold shoulder. With e-mail now the most common form of communications at work and play, experts say it's time people paid more attention to their net manners - or netiquette, as it's known. Not minding your net manners can scupper a business deal, harm work relationships, cause rows between friends and ruin your chances with a new date. The problem is that most people don't think they need net manners. They view e-mail as a message system, sending messages thoughtlessly. But the art of good communication is more complicated and entails more than just words. Research shows that people rely less on words in communication than on body language and delivery - which are absent in e-mail. In general, people rely 55 per cent on body language, 38 per cent on how something is said - the tone, volume and pace - and only 7 per cent on the words. Which means that, no matter how well thought-out our words, the meaning can be lost in an e-mail, giving rise to misunderstandings. A message that's short and to the point can be viewed as abrupt and disrespectful. E-mail etiquette expert Judith Kallos, author of Because Netiquette Matters, says not a day passes without her encountering a situation that's been caused by bad online etiquette. 'I see problems where people underestimate these issues every day,' she says. 'From mums and daughters not talking because of an e-mail issue, to business associates who don't understand why their e-mail was a deal-breaker.' It's one of the reasons Kallos set up netmanners.com and netiquetteforums.com, where people can discuss and find out what's appropriate for e-mailing. Kallos and a growing army of communication experts say net manners are critical. 'We have conventions and courtesies for a reason - that's what civilised societies do,' she says. 'Just because you're online doesn't mean manners, personal responsibility, accountability and courtesy get thrown out the window. 'There's this 'anything goes' mentality when online and I've yet to understand where it comes from. The web has been around for a little over a decade and nobody has any formal training.' Kallos says there's a whole list of dos and don'ts for e-mails, but the worst is sending unexpected, large attachments that jam inboxes, causing subsequent e-mails to bounce. 'People don't take the time to learn how to determine file size,' she says. 'Many photos, pdfs or spreadsheets are in sizes that aren't meant to be sent by e-mail.' Another of her pet hates is people sending large PowerPoint presentations to potential customers after business hours - when they're not there to download them and keep their inboxes clear. 'They shut down their potential customer's e-mail with a file because they didn't check to see if the customer had the software to open it. That's not a good impression to make.' Kallos says e-mail shouldn't be regarded as a replacement for the phone. 'E-mail isn't the be-all and end-all. It's a tool that you have to use at your discretion. 'Certain issues aren't meant for e-mail. Many times, the right thing to do would be to pick up the phone. 'There are many people who are more comfortable hiding behind a screen rather than having a conversation or a face- to-face meeting about an important, emotional or tough topic.'