Alright, I’m done writing…SEND.
OMG, did I really do that. Can I call it back? No!
Oh no, I hope no one reads it or maybe it’ll go into spam!
WHY did I send that email?
We’ve all been there, or at least many of us have, and it can be much more than just an “aggravating” moment. Emails sent in anger, annoyance or in questionable taste can cause substantive problems, end relationships, sabotage good work and have repercussions that can hardly be imagined.
Email has changed how we communicate. It’s fast, direct, and accessible 24/7. In the past, when you wanted to communicate with someone you picked up the telephone to have a conversation AND you didn’t do this at 2AM. You often had to “wait” until the person was available, or the timing was right, and that in turn helped you to better process the situation. What transpired in a call was personal with no possibility of others being part of the conversation at least in “real-time,” and if or when they heard about it, it was often “old news.” Certainly it may have been less convenient to communicate this way, however, strangely enough, most situations were handled faster and with less stress and aggravation.
But since email is now a fact of life here are some hard and fast “rules” about using it most effectively. Share them with your staff too!
Compose With Care
Writing is a skill and for many people writing an effective email can be very tricky. It’s always a good idea to take your time, select your words with care and to make certain that the “tone” of the email matches your intent. Remember that the tone of how you say something can completely contradict your words, however, in verbal communication you have the ability to react and immediately recalibrate based on how the other person responds. Not so with email. When people read your email they can draw the wrong conclusions without giving you an opportunity to explain or retract what you have written. They read, react and can even disappear. Remember too that emails can get forwarded to people that you did not intend to be part of the “conversation,” so be certain to not send any incriminating emails that may find their way to the “wrong” people.
Proofread Multiple Times
While you might write your email with care it is still necessary to proofread every email and to do so multiple times.
When they all come together correctly you can be confident that you have crafted an effective email that will not undermine what you wish to accomplish.
If You Wouldn’t Be Comfortable Saying It In Person, Don’t Write It In An Email Either
Email puts us at arm’s distance. We don’t see or hear the person with whom we are communicating, and because of that we can communicate with words and tone that we would never feel comfortable using face-to-face or on the telephone. It’s a trap, and the results can be much worse than if you said the same thing in person or on the phone where you have the opportunity to correct what you said or apologize for your tone. Once you send an email it is very difficult to eliminate its impact and extra care should be taken when the email is of a sensitive nature. Sometimes our egos get the best of us and we feel that we have to show our strength. That may be the case, but once again, it is the words and tone you use to communicate, that can make for a positive or completely negative outcome.
Here’s the best advice of all – take your time and when an email is really important, consider asking an impartial person to read it and let you know if you have communicated effectively. I have done this step often; trust me it has saved me from making an email personal taking out the ego and showing strength in a different fashion! These extra steps can make a significant difference in what comes next.
For further discussion or comments, please contact Gail L. Trugman Nikol, President Unique Business Solutions, firstname.lastname@example.org or call (516) 935-5641.