Anyone who uses email on a regular basis, whether for work or social purposes, knows that sometimes, things can get lost in translation. Sometimes, you open up an email and you’re not sure if the sender is angry because the tone of the message is so ambiguous. Sometimes, an email comes off as brusque or rude because the message is so direct; there’s no “hello” or “how are you?” All you get is, “send me the report by noon.” Not even any capitalization! How are you supposed to interpret such an email?
In the workplace, communicating by email is a critical tool for scheduling meetings and appointments, setting deadlines, coordinating projects, and pretty much everything that makes a business move forward. Today, I’d like to talk about what you need to know in order to send the most effective work emails that will be intelligible to everyone on your team:
- Say it in 2 or 3…or 4 different ways.
Your company is filled with a variety of people: introverts, extroverts, visual learners, auditory learners…and they all have unique ways of communicating and different interpretations of what they consider to be “normal” communication. People respond best when the message is delivered in a manner that they consider to be normal or effective communication. So, how can you possibly reach all these types of people in the same email? How can you ensure the message is intelligible to a variety of people?
Announcing an upcoming meeting? Include the date and time (in bold font, of course) AND send a WebEx. Want to reiterate the dress code? Send a list of appropriate clothing items AND attach photos of what’s appropriate AND what’s not. You get the point.
- Send multiple emails.
OK. Your next marketing meeting is scheduled for a week from now, next Tuesday. After coordinating a time that works for everybody within your office, send a Webex. Then, a few days before the meeting, send a reminder email. Maybe even send one the day before. Our inboxes are inundated constantly, so it’s not unusual for the occasional email to go unread. Sending multiple emails will help to ensure that everyone in your team sees at least one of those meeting reminders.
- Don’t be a Chatty Cathy, but don’t be a One Liner Guy either.
We all know the person in the company who writes those too-long emails that go on and on about things that don’t have much to do with what the email is supposed to be about. We also know that person who sends those one-line emails that seem somewhat curt at face value and don’t always provide enough detail. The key is to avoid both of these extremes and send emails that are right in the middle. Trying to find out what Andrea’s writing about for her blog post next week, but she has yet to announce her topic? Send an email like this:
Hope you’re well. I have yet to receive your blog topic for next week, so at your convenience, could you please send that to me? I need your topic by 3pm tomorrow, at the latest. Thank you!
Not too talkative. Not too curt. It’s direct, to-the-point, AND considerate. Including a deadline is crucial so that she is fully aware of your expectations. Always provide the hard details: dates, times, etc.
So why should you put in the extra effort? Simple: because you want something from them. It may simply be to listen to you, but in most situations, you are seeking an action from them. Again, it is a scientific fact that you are most likely to get what you want when you adjust your communication style to that of the recipients.
Want to learn more about how to better communicate? Download our FAQ on effective communication (it's FREE!)