Why Do Email Messages Seem Angry Or Rude?
September 7, 2011 6 Comments
For many, email adds to workplace stress and hurts job performance as well as office morale. Let’s look at why.
But email is unloved for many more reasons. Here’s a partial list that the attendees of my last Email Etiquette Training created.
Unloved Email List
- We get too many email
- We are cc’d on many we don’t need to see
- Many email ‘seem’ rude, abrupt, bossy or angry
- People expect an immediate response
- People send incomplete thoughts – all day long
- Many email messages are large blocks of text that are hard to read
- People don’t use spell check, pay attention to upper / lower case or use punctuation
- Email are sent without the attachments
- Email are sent to the wrong people
- People send junk email / email jokes etc…
… and the list goes on.
The risk to our reputation is terrifying. With only a quick scan of the ‘Unloved Email List’ we can feel the aggravation, stress and impatience many of us feel toward email an its senders. It’s a wonder we still send email instead of picking up the phone or walking down the hall.
Now, I think we can agree there will always be customers, suppliers or co-workers who are intentionally aggressive; workplace bullies even. But I believe this is the exception rather than the rule.
I feel most of the aggression and resulting frustration we feel is not intended. So until we win the lottery we have to figure out how to do a better job of building respectful and profitable relationships with everyone. I believe that means a combination of two things:
- Learn how to respect each other (which may need communication training)
- Learn how to use technology which includes email etiquette and phone etiquette rules (which almost certainly needs etiquette training)
It may seem funny to train someone on email etiquette or how to use the phone and voice mail… but I don’t think it should. Let’s consider – most of the technologies we use today are new to us.
I know I didn’t study email etiquette or phone etiquette at school. And when I first started working I was sent on Excel training, Outlook training and many more courses. So why hesitate at taking email etiquette or phone etiquette training?
All day we try to build relationships and share information with our customers, co-workers and suppliers by email and phone.
Let’s take a look at what I mean using two examples.
It wasn’t much more than 10 years ago that if you wanted to give someone some information that you had to either book a meeting or pick up the phone. What does that mean?
Back then we were having a one-on-one conversation with ONLY the right person. We were also able to use verbal and non-verbal cues to determine the emotional state of the person we were speaking with and if they understood. We were also not distracted by our smart phone vibrating on our hip.
The wide distribution of voice mail is also not much more than 10-15 years old. I still remember the outcry when my Scotiabank office peers when it was installed. The primary argument was how impersonal it was.
Today, most voice messages are either too short with scattered information, or they ramble on and on – a series of fragmented thoughts.
So that’s how I think technology is impacting how we build loyal, trusting relationships. What do you think?
I don’t want to leave you empty-handed so here are a few of my email etiquette Do’s to help alleviate stress you may be feeling.
- Do write a relevant Subject line
- Do use a friendly greeting, be polite and courteous
- Do pay attention to Cc… when replying
- Do demonstrate your Core Competencies and Brand Value
My Question to You:
Let me leave you with one question.
How do you think technology is impacting how we build loyal, trusting relationships?
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