Email: the Essential Communication Tool You’re Using WRONG
Communication has a significant impact on the productivity, engagement, and overall happiness of your workforce. Your emails can set the tone for how your team interacts internally and externally.
Whether you’re sending emails to a team of five or 50 people, interfacing with a new client, or communicating with your boss, the way you communicate through email matters. Ninety-two percent of people surveyed see email as an essential communication tool; however, email can stir up quite a bit of trouble in the workplace.
Have You Ever…
- Sent an important email and received no reply?
- Been included in an insanely long email thread that had nothing to do with you?
- Received an email that wasn’t clear?
- Been offended by an email?
If so, you might agree with the 43 percent of respondents who name email the communication method most likely to cause tension in the workplace. While you can’t control the emails you receive, you can manage your communication style. Try the following steps to implement healthy email communication.
Survey Your Direct Reports
Sixty-four percent of people say they have sent and/or received email that unintentionally caused anger or resentment. The key word is: unintentionally. People don’t intentionally set out to disrespect their team members, but it happens often.
How do you know if your emails ignite anger in your teammates? Ask them. Before you send another (unintentionally) brusque email, opt for a quick survey using tools like SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, or my new favorite, Qzzr.
Don’t tailor your questions to fit your company’s preferred method of communication. If your team uses lackadaisical language to communicate, make sure to structure your survey to reflect a more professional tone. Ask objective questions like: “Are you satisfied with our current communication process via email?”
Pay Attention to Your Coworkers’ Communication Styles
In person, if you speak with Jessica from accounting in a different way than you speak with Greg in marketing, then the same should apply to your emails. Understanding the differences between your coworkers’ communication styles can enhance your email communications. This infographic on HubSpot from Sendmail maps out the different personality types you should consider before hitting send:
Extroverted Email Senders Tend to:
- Send more emails;
- Write long, conversational messages;
- May misinterpret brevity as an inadequate response.
Extroverted Email Tip: If you’re an extrovert — a person with a natural focus on their external world — then make sure to reread emails and take out unnecessary wording and repetition before sending.
Introverted Email Senders Tend to:
- Send emails only when it’s great importance
- Send brief messages
- May delete long emails (from extroverts) before even reading them
Introverted Email Tip: If you’re an introvert – a person with a natural focus on the internal world – then make sure to include all major details before sending.
What about the emails that create the real tension in the workforce? This is where the ‘Thinkers’ and the ‘Feelers’ come into play, so listen up! The Thinkers take on an objective view, while the Feelers take on an empathetic view.
Thinking Email Senders Tend to:
- Emphasize facts and logic in their emails
- Not see the point in certain received emails quickly enough
- May have an impersonal tone or style in their emails
Last Minute Tip for Thinkers: Make sure to include personal touches in your emails, no matter the objective of the message.
Feeling Email Senders Tend to:
- Focus on the recipient
- Feel disconnected from Thinkers’ emails
- Be more likely to be personally offended by email communication
Last Minute Tip for Feelers: Place facts and logic at the beginning of the email in an organized fashion (use bullets!) — and then include your personal touches. Ever heard of the inverted pyramid style of writing?
Have you ever crafted a reply to an email and found yourself pressing the backspace or delete key far too many times? Taking more than two minutes to even decide how to respond to an email is a productivity killer and time waster. Your team members shouldn’t have to ponder an appropriate way to respond to your email; it should just come naturally. If your emails are vague, misleading or curt, then the receiver is likely to question their response.
Improve your email communication throughout your organization by identifying current email communication problems and taking into consideration who is receiving your message and how they may interpret it to reduce workplace communication tension for good.
Last Minute Stats from The Infographic:
For email senders, the biggest pet peeves are:
- 51 percent: no reply
- 14 percent: misinterpreted messages
- 13 percent: slow responses
- 11 percent: brusque or careless replies
- 4 percent: pushback or requests for more detail
- 3 percent: grammar police
For email recipients, the biggest pet peeves are:
- 25 percent: too many reply-alls
- 19 percent: emails that are confusing or vague
- 18 percent: too much email in general
- 12 percent: emails that are too long
- 11 percent: chitchat not related to work
- 8 percent: bad grammar
- 7 percent: emails that come off as brusque or rude
- 2 percent: emails with zero personality
Which of these bother you the most?