Bad Email Habits: What Message Are You Sending?
July 7, 2011 Leave a comment
Email messages often make up 90% of business communication (which lacks vocal inflection and facial gestures). So, when success depends so much on who you know, why is it that great people sometimes makes enemies and lose loyal clients even when they’ve landed their dream job and enjoy going to work?
There are a few things that are likely happening… and often it’s behaviour we’re exhibiting that we don’t recognize as being negatively interpreted. But, as I say in myEffective Email Writing Workshop “Whatever your reader understands and interprets is reality… (whether you meant it or not).” This is true for the spoken word and even more true for every email message.
This blog post looks at aspects of email communication where ‘personality’ plays a major role. Some of these tips will help you improve your email etiquette and communication style a little – some will help you a lot.
Cause, Effect and Solution
There really are only a few common challenges people have. Think of these four D’s when you are speaking with your family and co-workers. It may be that your language is alienating you from the relationships that are most important to you:
- Demand: Unrealistically asking for more than we should expect
- Diagnosis, judgment, criticism: Negativity alienating us from others and our actions.
- Denial of responsibility: The problem is never our fault
- Deserve: Reward or punishment that diminishes the value of the person or people we are engaging with
Consider these email etiquette rules:
- Email vs. Instant Messaging
Instant messaging (IM), is the closest text-based communications option to a real phone call. If decisions are made on IM, always use email to confirm what was decided and why.
- New Generation, New Motivators
Your clients and co-workers can be any age. An employee who is 25 might use slang and abbreviations – they are also motivated differently. People tend to write as though they writing to themselves. In the business world, you need to consider your audience.
- Embracing Brevity/Seeking Structure
Many emailers write lines and lines of text that coworkers have to wade through. Brevity is always best so be clear and get to the point fast. Also consider how your e-mail is laid out so that it is easy to read and understand.
- Don’t Burn a Colleague or an Assistant
Never burn a colleague or a colleague’s assistant. Email is easy to forward and undoubtedly you will lose twice by making an enemy of your colleague and hurt your reputation by looking like a tattle tale.
- Jarring Jargon
Using insider industry terms can alienate prospects who do not know what your terms mean. For the sake of clarity – in most cases it is best to keep in-house jargon out of email.
Changing a lifetime of habits is not easy, but you also don’t want to put your personal and business relationships at risk because of the email message you send. Learn to identify your communication problems, solve them and then provide ongoing feedback and motivation.
Are you ready to empower the way you communicate with your customers, suppliers or co-workers?
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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.
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