All modern companies communicate primarily through email, and with the explosion in communications over the last five years emails have become the standard by which businesses send and receive internal information. Being well-versed with email can set you aside as an efficient, business-savvy employee or someone who is out of touch with reality. There are no hard and fast rules for email content, but the best messages are direct and to the point.
Here are a few common communication through email mistakes and how to avoid them.
Know-it-all’s feel the need to impose their will by demonstrating the power of their superior intellect. Messages from know-it-all’s tend to be extremely lengthy with numerous changes in font color, style and size. The main point or intended message gets lost in the subtext and may include a lengthy chain of messages that are needlessly inserted, making it difficult for recipients to follow. A message from a know-it-all can make you feel as if you received a homework assignment, and the main reason people do not understand these messages is because they are just too long and difficult comprehend. Keep it short and to the point, and preferably one font style and color.
Messages from engineers can be extremely long and difficult to understand, just like the know-it -all. The main difference with the engineer is that they assume everyone understands technical terminology and complex technical instructions. Messages from engineer to engineer usually have no issues, but when engineers try to communicate with individuals outside their scientific circle, this is where they run into problems. Know your recipients and communicate at a level that they can understand. If messages are being sent to two types of communication styles then technical instructions can be included as attachments and basic instructions included in the body of the message. This way both parties can follow and act on the information in the message.
Repeaters send out messages over long periods that can last months and even years. These messages focus on recurring events such as software updates. The problem with the repeater is that small changes in message content and format sometimes go unnoticed. This lulls the recipient into a false sense of security, believing that this is just another message that they have already acted on. Repeating messages should clearly indicate deadlines and dates, as well as changing instructions setting them aside from all other messages of the same type.
Bully’s like to demand action through intimidation, which is nothing more than a mild form of extortion. Imposing their will on others by levying unrealistic deadlines or demands can make recipients feel that if they do not comply they could find themselves in serious trouble. A bully can also go on the attack, blaming others directly for anything they feel has the potential to make them look bad. This is intended to produce an emotional response, and firing back with equal ferocity is never a smart choice. Any response should be polite and professional, pointing out potential solutions rather than becoming part of a heated argument. Your ability keep cool portrays you as someone who makes good decisions, even under pressure.
Companies today more than ever need employees who can effectively communicate in written format, and having this skill can place you in high demand. Remember to think of who you are sending the email to and always double check to make sure grammar and spelling in correct before sending.
“The spoken word is as thin as air but the written word is always there”
Col John Keenan USMC (Ret)