Digital Etiquette

Digital etiquette are guidelines on how to use the internet to increase engagement, productivity while not annoying people. In other words, how office etiquette can build – not hurt your reputation.

As with face-to-face communication, one of the best things to remember when considering digital etiquette is there is a real person receiving your message. This means they have their own needs, pressures, time constraints and frustrations… just like you. So, communicate with them with patience and thoughtfulness just like you want others to use when they communicate with you.Digital Etiquette

Digital etiquette protects your reputation and by extension is important for your productivity. If people see that you demonstrate respectful and trustworthy behaviours, they will not only want to work with you – they will go out of their way to work with you. Digital etiquette will also increases the chances that people will give you the information you need when you need it and therefore improving your productivity even further.

Here are a few of my favourite digital etiquette / office etiquette best practices

Keep Your Computer Virus Free

You don’t want to be the person / company that sends a client an email with a virus. Even if you are lucky and their system catches it before it does harm, you will have lost personal and professional trust – maybe so badly you may lose the relationship (especially if it did infect their system).

Digital etiquette when it comes to computer viruses is very important because the result can be very costly in many ways.

Use Consistent And Approved Technology

If your office uses PowerPoint for presentations, don’t begin to use another package. You may be more familiar with the another package and perhaps it does have more flexibility… but by using it your co-workers may see you as arrogant. Also, your fantastic presentation may not get seen if your associates and/or clients don’t have the software needed to run it.

If you feel strongly that the company would be better off with different / new technology, follow smart office etiquette by submitting to your executive team asking for approval. That’s how you get a reputation as a visionary not a trouble maker.

Digital Etiquette Means Using The Phone – Not Email

One of the most important business email etiquette best practices is to not use email.

It is often better to use the phone (or walk down the hall), especially if you have complicated things to discuss. Phone calls and face-to-face are also much better ways to build personal relationships.

In urgent situations, phone calls or face-to-face is also better. I recommend sending an email and phoning; this way email is a great back-up because they may see it if they are in a meeting – and therefore can step out of the meeting.

Only Open Email When You’re Ready

Email comes in 7/24 and if you have all of your alerts on it’s very tempting to interrupt what you are doing and look/answer. That is a hugh negative impact on your productivity (and perhaps relationships).

Another email etiquette best practice is to turn off your personal email notifications. My recommendation is to only check email a few times per day (I know – easier said than done). The objective is to plan on spending a few hours each day (especially in the morning), without email or phone notifications so you can focus on your Important Work. It is proven that almost everyone of use is at our strategic / intellectual best in the morning, so, the last thing you want to do is lose that brainpower responding to email.

Confirm Your Objective Before Hitting Send

Especially if you are angry it’s important you reread; anger will come through loud and clear… and you may not want to share your anger with your clients. Doing this is a life-saver when it comes to digital etiquette and your reputation.

Even when you are having a terrific day, take some time and be sure you are meeting the important objectives before you hit send.

BONUS Digital Etiquette Best Practice

We all know that email can be a huge waste of time so I hope that these tips will help you out. Here are a few more quick digital etiquette / business email etiquette best practices.

    • Don’t assume the recipient knows all the details. Remember – the person you are writing to doesn’t have your knowledge or experience; so did you give them enough information… or too much? Tone can be easily misconstrued.
    • Make sure your subject lines are relevant. Conversations about different subjects are more easily tracked when you use a relevant subject line… especially when you get email on different topics from the same person – which us common at work.
    • Use email signatures. A great email signature has your name, title, company name and phone number. Sometimes they include a link to your company’s website, but be careful – some company servers are blocking email that have web links.

Happy communicating using digital etiquette.

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5 Ways Productive Email Dialogue Breaks Down

Productive email dialogue is not complicated if you are mindful of yourself and the people you communicating with.

Have you ever had a face-to-face conversation that seemed to only flow one-way? You just sat there as the other person talked and talked about their job or their family or their vacation… or whatever, never giving you a chance to participate.

When we write email, what we write is almost always about our needs, experiences, ideas. That makes sense of course, but that isn’t dialogue – that is telling, and if you have one simple message to tell (like Thursdays 10:30 Sales meeting agenda attached), and your audience is expecting it, then that works. But, if you need to communicate… email dialogue is more complicated and you have to think about different things.

To have a productive email dialogue, great communicators go beyond their needs to intentionally have a conversation… and this is a lot more difficult than we think. For example, an above average communicator is self-aware, they take the time to confirm their message is understood… and they constantly evaluate the emotional impact of their message (email always have an emotional impact). Writers also acknowledge that no two people are alike, so they consider the communication styles, needs and work environments of the people they email. That’s a lot to consider.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To help you do all of this, the following are 4 ways productive email dialogue breaks down so that you can avoid them.

Not Engaging The Individual

If someone is not engaged a productive email dialogue is not possible.

This may be because someone may have no interest in the subject. It may also be that their attention may be distracted by something or someone else (speaking with or listening to someone else or if they are reading your email on a smart phone).

If you know this may happen, find ways to make your email relevant to their success. Bottom-lining is one great solution (see below).

Discounting Information

When someone dismisses the information being shared.

This may be because the reader / listener doesn’t value or respect the person or the information being presented. If the reader doesn’t care about your story they are not going to read your email with their full attention.

Make sure you send your email only to the people who need to know… and use Cc: properly. Don’t automatically send to people as a way to escalate your need/request… and bottom-line your message (see below).

Misinterpreting Your Message

This happens often with email because vocal inflection and body language is not experienced.

It can also happen when the writer uses words or jargon that the reader does not know. Most readers (and listeners), will subconsciously guess / assume the intended meaning.

The result is that an email may be interpreted as bossy or the message may be misunderstood completely. This is especially true if the reader is very busy or having a bad day – something the writer likely has no control over but is just one more reason to keep your message simple, polite and considerate of their needs.

Over-detailing Email

Like the name suggests, when someone gives far too much detail his or her audience shuts off and doesn’t read anything. This happens in email, face-to-face, meetings, presentation and all other communication.

This often happens because the writer or speaker is passionate about what they are communicating but are not considering what their audience needs at that moment. Sometimes the short story is the best story.

Technology Etiquette (Tech Etiquette)

Technology etiquette is a growing challenge in business. It is about being mindful of when you should use your technology and when you should leave it alone. It’s important to be aware of how your use of technology impacts you and those around you.

Technology etiquette training focuses on the behaviours you should and should not emulate and the impression you create when you use your smartphone or tablet in the company of others, in meetings and/or when you are with or on the phone with clients. Our training looks at the ‘What’ and the ‘Why.’

Conclusion

The above are 5 email tips you should be aware of when you write and read email. You may be making assumptions that are hurting your ability to be as productive as you can be.

I want to leave you on a positive note, so here is one email tip you should always do.

Know What You Want – Then Design Your Dialogue Backwards

Most often this is called Bottom-lining or Getting To The Point.

Grab your readers’ attention by putting your action item at the top of your email. Follow your action item with your facts and logic as support information. Designing backwards to how we often write email lets your reader know the context of your support information if and when they read it… which make you and your email dialogue more relevant to them.

Happy email communication.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates business etiquette courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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3 Email Etiquette Techniques Not Often Discussed

Email is the main source of workplace dialogue – even for people sitting next to each other. This means that knowing and using email etiquette and business etiquette rules is important to our professional reputation, organizational reputation, productivity and organizational profitability.

When we communicate by email it’s difficult to build rapport. The result is that often our email sound abrupt, bossy, angry or like we (the writer), don’t care. This is even more valid when we are typing on a smartphone or tablet.

This means your employees soft skills and emotional intelligence (or lack of), may be alienating their audience… and your investment when you hired excellent talent and trained them is being undermined.email étiquette

Learning and practicing email etiquette and business etiquette rules helps employees write email messages that are professional and engaging – even when they have difficult conversations, say ‘No’, or provide bad news.

Three email etiquette techniques that are almost never discussed when people write about best practices are:

1. Spell names correctly. Names are important – they are personal and our identity, individuality is connected to them. So, it’s important to get them right.

The best way for someone to get the impression you don’t have attention to detail is to spell their name incorrectly.

2. Never use Mr, Mrs, Ms until you are sure about the gender of the receiver. If you don’t know – don’t guess. There are a lot of gender-neutral names like Jamie and Chris. Also, as we experience greater cultural diversity, guessing will surely lead to embarrassing and potentially costly errors.

In addition, avoid ever using Dear Sir/Madam. It appears dismissive and like you don’t care (like junk mail). Your receiver will notice and their opinion of you will not be a good one.

3. From country to country, appropriate email and business etiquette can vary widely. In certain countries, email correspondence is expected to be highly formal, much like a written business letter. In other countries (like America), they are often shorter and more to-the-point.

If you are unsure – stay professional, get to the point and add links to any additional information or attachments… then wait and see what comes back. Do you get formal back, or a short to-the-point message or a casual email? Their response will give you insight into how they communicate.

Always remember email is best used as a way of sharing data, charts and directions. It’s not a great place to discuss choices, brainstorm or build rapport.

Conclusion

Business etiquette and soft skills training is a critical part of all professional development training plans.

When you do write email, get to the point quickly and write in full sentences following proper capitalization and grammar rules. Avoid slang and jargon and always be sure to use the spell-check. While it’s difficult to take the time to re-read you message impartially – try whenever you can… especially for important or sensitive messages.

If it’s a new relationship try to have a quick call with them. This will do wonders to establish a long-term, valuable relationship which can then be carried forward via email.

Happy communicating.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

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How To Write Follow-up Email Messages?

It’s Tuesday and you’ve been not-so-patiently waiting since Monday for a response you expected last Friday. What do you do?

Follow-up email messages can stop the best of us in our tracks – and perhaps that’s a good thing. When we write follow-up email we often give careful thought to how we sound and what we say. Translation: most of the time we reread our follow-up email before we send them… something we should do to every email draft before we send.

The careful attention we give our follow-up email is justified. The way our email is interpreted can create retaliatory friction long into our future causing passive aggressive – and not so passive aggressive delays or lack of cooperation for days, weeks or years later. Of course not following up isn’t a good option either.

Fortunately there are other options. Here are two common mistakes when writing follow-up email PLUS options for what you could write. Please note: Standard email etiquette greetings and signature lines should be added to these messages.

Example 1.

Not Great: “Based on our agreement I was expecting your feedback on Friday. It’s now Tuesday; can you confirm I’ll have it by mid-day today?” By the way – you CC’d their boss and your boss.

Much Better: “This is a quick follow-up requesting your feedback regarding XYZ project. I was expecting it last Friday; please let me know if I can get it by mid-day today. I will be submitting my findings tomorrow morning and would enjoy your contribution.” By the way – you didn’t CC anyone.pointed email

Example 2.

Not Great: “I’d really appreciate any response to the 2 questions I asked last Thursday. I need them today – otherwise don’t bother.”

Much Better: “I’m following-up to see if I can get your comments today on the 2 questions I asked last Thursday about new fiberglass molding process? I have to submit my findings tomorrow at noon.”

Whenever you write you want to try to avoid sounding abrupt or accusatory. If the person may feel like you are pointing a finger at them… rewrite. The wise old idiom ‘You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’ holds true here.

Conclusion

Always try to stay upbeat and positive. Let them know your timelines is a gentle way of framing up your urgency. Also, I recommend never saying ‘I know you are busy but…’ In almost every case (I cannot think of one where it doesn’t), it sounds insincere.

Happy communicating.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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Email Etiquette When Looking For A Job

Email etiquette when looking for a job is important because it’s very likely much of your job search communication will happen by email – and some by phone. Every point of contact you have puts your professionalism under a microscope, so be careful with your email etiquette and phone etiquette.

Act like every email and phone call is part of a job interview.Job Application Email

How Is Your Email Address?

If your email address looks like drinkingparti101TotalyON@gmail.com it compromises your reputation. Your email address may be the first thing your potential employer notices, so make sure it is professional and promotes respect.

Set up a new gmail email address if you need to (gmail will appear more ‘current’).

Write SMART Email Subject Lines

An Email Subject Line that says: Resume or even Resume of Bruce Mayhew will likely not get a reply unless you are the only applicant.

Your future boss (hopefully), may get 50, 100 or more applications, so… you have to stand out. Your email subject line should identify the job you want and why your resume is important (to them – not you). Integrate keywords into your email subject line… in around 8 words. For Example: Executive Travel Coordinator Application / World Traveler Bruce Mayhew

Say Hello / Salutation (CRITICAL)

Every email – especially email sent to your future boss should have a greeting; otherwise you look abrupt and rude. Use ‘Dear Mr. Mayhew’ or perhaps ‘Thank you for this opportunity Mr. Mayhew’. Even ‘Good morning’ would work (especially if you can’t find their name).

Names are important to people. When someone uses our name we naturally pay attention. If you don’t know their name, check LinkedIn, go online and looked for the company directory and/or call the company and ask the receptionist. There is no better way to get noticed than to value social niceties and relationship building.

Use ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ only as a last resort.

Your Main Message

Get to the point and write full sentences. Start with one or two short sentences about why you are right for the job. If your opening is ‘Please find my attached resume’ you might as well work on your tan instead.

Use punctuation which means start sentences with a Capital and finish them with a period (I recently trained someone who had a hard time with this – and they were not a Millennial), and be sure you check grammar and spelling. Be professional, polite (but not too polite), and grateful for the opportunity (but not too grateful).

When you finish writing, save your draft, go away and return to re-read/edit.

Every email should have a call for action. Usually your call to action would be one of the first things in your email – but for a resume put your call to action second after you’ve let them know why you are special.

Reply To Email In Less Than 24 Hours

A quick email reply is respectful. Lets say they want more documentation but you are on your way to the cottage for 4 days with only your smartphone. Do you hold off before replying? NO! Especially because you are looking for a job, reply to email asap and let them know when you will send the documentation. Better yet, phone them and establish a one-on-one relationship. As soon as they hear your voice, you will have an advantage over everyone else… relationships are just that way.

If you’ll be out of range for a few days use an Out of Office message. Be polite and friendly and remember – your future boss may be receiving the message.

Attachments

Missing attachments are one of the easiest ways to make a really bad impression when using email when looking for a job. Attach your resume before addressing your email so you don’t forget.

Closing & Signature

If you use an automatic signature line (which is a great time management best practice), be sure it is appropriate for your potential future employer. Include your full name, email address and primary phone number. If you write a relevant blog, link to it as well, but be careful because some organizations’ firewalls block email that have links, you may want to check.

After Your Interview

Congratulations, all your attention to detail as you were looking for a job has paid off and you got an interview.

After your interview send a ‘thank you for the interview’ email. Then, as George Armes suggests in his article, send a handwritten note by mail/post… where you use a stamp. Do this quickly; I recommend the same day so be prepared and have everything ready in advance (including the stamp).

Happy communicating and job hunting.

Please share and/or Tweet this post if you like it. It’ll only take a moment and will help us both share thoughtful business best practices. Some popular ‘It Feels Good To Share‘ links are at the end of this post.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

If you enjoyed this Business Communication blog post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew is founder and President of Bruce Mayhew Consulting a Professional Development firm that excels at quickly and easily tailoring programs to meet the unique needs of our clients and their employees. In addition to being an effective professional development trainer, Bruce is a popular conference speaker, writer and has been featured on major TV, Radio and Newspaper networks ranging from CTV to Global to The Globe & Mail.

Connect with Bruce on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Mindfulness, Time Management and more.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to the right to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Lets Fix 3 Annoying Email Etiquette Habits

I do lots of email etiquette training and have written extensively about email but there are 3 annoying email etiquette habits that have been on my mind lately.

One came to me as I found myself disagreeing with CBC radio guest contributor Lucy Kellaway of the BBC and Financial Post about email etiquette (I’m sure she’s crushed). The next two were annoying email etiquette habits I noticed others were commenting on in social media.

So – with all of this ‘listening and noticing’ going on, I did what I often do… I write a blog post.

Annoying Email Etiquette Habit 1. Reread Before Sending

If you’re like most people, when we write an email we open a blank screen and start typing. What happens over the next minute or two is that as we type, more information about what we should know and/or ask bubbles to the surface. Email evolution takes place.

When we’re done all the information/questions is likely there, but chances are the logical flow of our email might look like a Family Circus© comic strip. We have to remember that 10 different people can read the same words and depending on their education, experience and objectives they will interpret those words 10 different ways… ESPECIALLY in an email. When we add to the mix that email evolution just happened, we are almost guaranteed to confuse and frustrate our reader, (you know I’m right because you’ve received email like that).

Family Circus ©Bil Keane Inc.

Family Circus ©Bil Keane Inc.

The solution is easy. Write your email in exactly the same way… but PLEASE… take a few seconds and reread before sending. When you do reread, please keep in mind the following 3 things:

  1. Bottom line your email by putting the important information and action item at the top and background / support information after.
  2. Confirm that you wrote with your readers needs and knowledge in mind. If you don’t, they will likely have to make assumptions – and that’s the beginning of a whole list of mistakes waiting to happen.
  3. Is there any information that is not longer needed and/or a sentence you can shorten? The less time they need to read the more likely your message will be read and acted on. 

Annoying Email Etiquette Habit 2. Close The Loop

If I sent you a file you requested, how do I know you received it if you don’t reply? A simple ‘Thanks’ does the trick. You can even save the 2 seconds it would take to type the reply by creating a partially completed email template (see the template I’ve included in this post as an example).

Bruce Mayhew Consulting Email Etiquette

Bruce Mayhew Consulting Email Etiquette

Besides being polite and respectful, sending a thank you reduces risk by closing the loop on our ‘transaction,’ otherwise, I might be (rightly), worried and spend even more time following up with you to make sure my email:

  • Didn’t go into your junk folder
  • Wasn’t mistakenly overlooked because you receive over 150 email each day (like most business people)

Annoying Email Etiquette Habit 3. Use A Signature Block

Always use a signature block which includes a phone number your reader can use to get hold of you. You don’t need to include your private number, but everyone should be able to leave you a verbal message (at least).

I was listening to CBC radio 1 a few weeks ago and Lucy Kellaway was on saying the exact opposite; the last thing she wants to share in an email is her phone number. If you are a public figure that makes sense… but for the average business email that you are purposefully engaged in, phone numbers are important.

Email is a terrible brainstorming tool and as mentioned above, details can easily be misinterpreted or overlooked. There are many times when your reader will realize a 2 minute conversation or voice mail can replace days of back and forth email, frustration and misunderstandings.

Note: If you use an email management system like Outlook, you’ll need to activate a send AND reply email signature block, (many people only activate their send).

Every time you send an email you are advertising your personal and professional brand. What message do you want to send?

Happy communicating and email etiquette.

Please share and/or Tweet this post if you like it. It’ll only take a moment and will help us both share thoughtful business best practices. Some popular ‘It Feels Good To Share‘ links are at the end of this post.

If you liked this post we think you’ll also enjoy:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Mindfulness and more. Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to the right to watch us on Canada AM.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Family Circus created by cartoonist Bil Keane and currently written, inked, and colored by his son, Jeff Keane. King Features Syndicate.

Email Etiquette For Every Office And Every Employee

Few employees and even fewer offices have benefited from the investment of email etiquette training… even though email is the preferred choice of business communication. Unfortunately, and as most of us have learned the hard way, the penalty of poor communication can range from an embarrassing mistake and a few hours of wasted work to potentially much worse.

Even tech savvy Millennials and Generation Z who will soon account for 50% of the workforce have received little to no email etiquette training at school.

So to help with this up-hill battle, I’d like to share 4 Tips from my email etiquette training workshops that are very popular.

Email Etiquette For Every Office And Every Employee: Tip 1

Say Hello, Good morning, Good afternoon and Good-bye.

One of the most common complaints about email is that the writer is bossy or rude even though the email message was not meant to be. One of the easiest solutions to make an email sound respectful AND professional is to say Hello, Good morning, Good afternoon.Email Etiquette For Every Office

When we talk face to face we never start without saying hello. Email etiquette follows the same rule.

The same approach works when you close your messages. Be sure to say Good-bye, Thanks Bruce or if a very formal email use Sincerely.

Email Etiquette For Every Office And Every Employee: Tip 2

Be brief and choose your words carefully.

Most of us are good at writing brief email (too brief sometimes), but one thing we are guilty of is not thinking about our readers needs / knowledge when we write. We don’t mean to – we’re just busy.

Unfortunately, if we don’t consider our readers needs and how much experience they have, even your closest associate is going to have to make assumptions… and this opens the door for mistakes, loss of time and reputation, higher costs and many more problems.

Also be careful of using jargon and acronyms as they may further frustrate your readers.

Email Etiquette For Every Office And Every Employee: Tip 3

Write great subject lines using 5 – 8 words.

Great email subject lines will get your email noticed and answered quickly.

Would you read a magazine article that had a vague title? NO!  So, considering we receive approximately 100 – 250 email each day, the best way to help your readers prioritize, read and file your messages is by writing great email subject lines.

Email Etiquette For Every Office And Every Employee: Tip 4

Use a font and salutation that is approved by your organization.

Consistency is critical to your brand and customer experience. If it wasn’t, every Tim Horton’s store would look different – but they don’t. So, make sure you’re using the preferred font, font size and font colour your company style guide outlines.

Also, when it comes to your salutation follow the company style guide structure. Does the salutation include the company logo? What phone numbers should be included (some number should ALWAYS be included).

Email Etiquette For Every Office And Every Employee Conclusion

Email occupies as much as 90% of most offices daily communication because it is widely accessible, easy to use and a terrific record of a ‘conversation.’

With email etiquette training you can spend less time writing messages while also improving your personal and professional brand.

Happy communicating and business email etiquette for your office.

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If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Why Emotion Is Often Misunderstood In Email And Text Messages

When we read email and text messages all day we are bound to misunderstand something. Knowing that misunderstandings are likely to happen and why are the best ways to prevent them in the first place.

4 Reasons Why Emotion Is Often Misunderstood In Email And Text Messages:

  • Email and text messages are usually really short with not enough information, (so the reader is confused), or too long with too much information, (so the reader begins to skim).
  • Email and text messages remove soft-stimuli/signals we get information from in face-to-face or telephone communication… like vocal inflection, vocal tempo, smiles/frowns and hand gestures.
  • When we read we almost always see things first through our own feelings, needs and experiences. Then, if email empathy is one of our strong-suits, we make a leap of faith (which usually happens without even knowing we are doing it), to guess (using our own bias), what the other is feeling, needing and experiencing.
  • When we write, we often see things only though our feelings, needs and experiences, we rarely stop to consider things that are critical for our readers, things like:Essential Email Etiquette And Text Message Habits
    • How busy are our readers
    • What is the really important information they need
    • Are they reading on a computer or tiny smart phone/tablet
    • What do they know about me and/or my situation
    • What do they know about the language I am using (jargon)

What To Do To Make Sure Emotion Is Not Misunderstood

To make sure emotion is not misunderstood in our email and text message, when we write we should be sure to:

  • Think of our readers needs and experience
  • In most cases, avoid jargon and abbreviations (especially in business communication)
  • Get to the need and action item quickly
  • Manage our readers expectations
  • Avoid trying to insert humour or sarcasm
  • Reread before we hit send

Conclusion For Our Email And Text Messages:

Every email and text message we send impacts our professional and personal brand – it builds trust with the people we send them to… or tears trust down.

Since up to 90% of most business communication is by email (and some text), it’s critical to our brand – and our productivity that we make sure emotion is not misunderstood in your email and text messages.

Happy communication and writing. 

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts. If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

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I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Email Etiquette Examples: Effective Communication Fail & Pass

With an ever-increasing importance on brand reputation and workplace efficiency, email etiquette and email writing style is continuing to be a business priority. So, lets take a look at an email etiquette example to see one way we can improve.

To set this up properly, I want to share with you that during my email etiquette training workshops one of the most common challenges I hear from participants is, “I’m just too busy.” So… I ask them how much time they spend following up to get answers they asked? That’s usually when I get the big eye-roll and exasperated sigh… and the comment that goes something like… “All the time – people just don’t pay attention anymore.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 5.59.13 PM

Let’s do some quick math. If a person has to follow-up on 20% of the email they send and they spend only 2 hours/day on email. In 1 week (5 days), they would spend an additional 1 hour and 30 minutes at work writing even more follow-up email.

To these people, I say, “I can give you back almost all of that 1 hour and 30 minutes… so you can get home to your family and friends – or ball game or….” And at the same time I can also improve your reputation with your customers, your suppliers and your boss.

Email Etiquette Example: Fail

All of us have received an email that looks like this. I call this an email brick.

John,

This is a follow-up email regarding the international payment processing project proposal. We are still expecting to meet the development schedule of 12 months. Are we on schedule? Marie and I had a very productive meeting and she recommended I connect with you regarding the literature status. Please insure I have all background information and send me a detailed update of key milestones. Was the issue we connected with last month fully resolved? I assume it was. I’ll need to know by next Tuesday about the key milestones update.

Pat.

What are the chances the writer will get the information they want? Very little because their needs are scattered throughout the message – and there’s a lot of unimportant even confusing information. Confusion almost always leads to follow-up email, increased tension and a wasted time at work.

Email Etiquette Example: Pass

But what if the writer took a moment to clearly ask for what they really needed.

Bruce Speaking On Global TV about Millennials

Bruce Speaking On Global TV about Millennials

What if they wrote an email that looks like this?

Hi John,

I’m following-up regarding the international payment processing project proposal. Marie Laplander recommended I connect with you regarding the literature status.

For each milestone I’ll need the following 4 things:

  • Milestone start date
  • Whose responsible
  • % Completed to date
  • Expected completion date

I am presenting to the board next Wednesday so please send me the milestone update by Tuesday. We are still expecting to meet the original development schedule of 12 months.

I really appreciate your help John. Please call me with any questions at 416 555 1111.

Pat

The Summary of Both Email

Believe it or not, the revised email example has 1 fewer words. In addition, the revised email:

  • Is much easier to understand
  • Specifically lists the 4 deliverables Pat requires (no guesswork by John)
  • Has a greeting and salutation (helps with tone)
  • Calls John by name – twice (helps with tone)
  • Respects and appreciates John (basically says thank you and builds rapport)
  • Offers a helpful ‘please call with questions’  message
  • Doesn’t confuse the message by including a request from last month

It’s also almost 100% guaranteed that Pat will get the information they need from John– when they need it… without need for follow-up email, AND John will feel appreciated working on this for Pat.

Email Etiquette Conclusion

Lets stop sending email bricks. We owe it to ourselves and our reputation and our families to take the time to save time. 

The idea that ‘I don’t have time’ to write a clear, polite, professional email is an epidemic we can cure. 

Happy email etiquette and time management training

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts. If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

E-mail Etiquette Case Study

This e-mail etiquette case study demonstrates that sloppy e-mail sends a bad message.

Sloppy and/or aggressive e-mail etiquette calls into question our ability to think clearly and to communicate our expertise effectively. Poor e-mail etiquette also calls into question a writer’s quality of work and awareness (forget care for), THEIR personal and professional brand… and if that’s the case, why should anyone think the writer will care for theirs?

E-mail Etiquette Case Study

The Client Challenge

I was recently contacted by a SVP who was looking for e-mail etiquette training for his sales and operations teams.

As always, I conduced a needs analysis and their challenges were not surprising; they included:

  • Being overwhelmed by the volume of e-mail (overuse of e-mail)
  • Using poor e-mail subject lines
  • Attempting to use humour – which often backfired or the reader read as being sarcastic
  • Sending long rambling e-mail… or only one or two-word

The Client Solution

My proposed solution was a half-day interactive e-mail etiquette training workshop were his teams would learn and practice business and e-mail etiquette.

He accepted the following e-mail etiquette training outline which focused in two (2) main areas:

1. E-mail Structure:

  • Make e-mail easy to:
    • Write
    • Read & Understand
    • Act on (with all of the information you are asking for)
    • When to use To, Cc and Bcc
    • When to use Reply vs. Reply All

2. E-mail Content:

  • Share information a reader needs:
    • Manage reader expectations
    • How to bottom line messages to develop clear communication
    • Decrease misunderstandings and frustration
    • The pros and cons of using humor
    • How to keep from being read as bossy, aggressive or rude

Example Of Poor E-mail Etiquette I Often See

The following example happens to me all the time.

  • I write: “I’m available to meet you at your offices on the 12th at 11AM or the 19th at 3PM.”
  • They reply: “Sure!”

Argh! This of course required more e-mail to clarify.

One or two-word responses beg – and I really mean beg for the reader to guess / interpret… or send more e-mail to ask for clarification… a process that takes more time and puts more e-mail in everyone’s inbox (which becomes a Time Management problem).

If a writers attention to detail is like that with me (an e-mail etiquette trainer), what are the chances that this is ‘business as usual’ for them? Pretty good I bet. Unfortunately, by failing on the soft skills they are making people question their attention to detail, quality of work and professionalism as well as causing more work for themselves (and others).

E-mail Etiquette Case Study Conclusion

Poor e-mail etiquette calls into question a persons respect for their readers time as well as their ability to be organized and prioritize important work. It suggests to clients and co-workers that the writer doesn’t care… or doesn’t realize; either way that message isn’t good.

Considering that 90% of most business communication is by e-mail, your e-mail are a critical part of your brand and your professional reputation. Your e-mail builds trust or tears it down. E-mail is often someone’s first impression of you… and every e-mail you write after that will confirm an impression of confidence, care and respect… or _________ (you fill in the blank).

YOU have the choice to protect and nourish your personal and professional reputation by following e-mail etiquette techniques and writing great, to the point professional e-mail… or… throw caution to the wind. What do you choose?

Happy communication and e-mail writing. 

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts. If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

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