At work you will spend ~50% of your time on email. You could be giving status updates or responding to queries or making announcements or asking for help. Emails are of different types. However, each one is addressing a critical stakeholder between your team member, to seniors, peers, customers, or vendors.
Every email interaction is a moment of truth. It leaves an impression on the reader about you. While by design your managers emails will always come first, you always prioritize emails from some people over the others. And why do you think that happens?
Research says that through the written word we create visual images of people. And this happens subconsciously.
Below are some email examples along with the image:
Re: Missing Monthly Report
I am annoyed that you have not sent the monthly report on-time. This is the third time it is late in the last six months. This is not acceptable! When will you get this right? This is a critical report. I have already given you feedback, and I am still facing the same mistakes. I must have this report immediately!!
The above mail re written like this creates a completely different image in the head:
Re: Missing Monthly Report
I was supposed to receive the monthly report by today. This is the third time it has been late in the last six months. The impact is that we are not able to take important financial decisions.
I look forward to receiving it by the end of day. Feel free to reach out to me for any help that you need.
See how different the 2 set of images are! The thing with first impressions is they last. Now every time your name will appear in the mailbox the image will by default set in. Hence it is important you treat each email as an important touch point and an opportunity to build your brand.
If I perceive you to be an aggressive angry person than you are going to be the last email I open. I do not want to start my workday by communicating with someone unpleasant. Now this has cascading effect on your ability to deliver to your goals. If your emails are not going to be read and acted upon on priority its going to cause delays. And since these delays will be out of your control it will make you feel irritated and frustrated. Hence you will write follow up emails which will be a little aggressive and in the your mind you are just being fair and only following up but in the recipient’s mind now he sees you to be a bigger monster as you appear angrier to him.
From there on its essentially a downward spiral.
While creating and angry and aggressive image through your writing is one extreme the other is coming across as a person who plays the victim, or always when and is very passive.
Let us look at this email:
I really wanted to let you know that I think I am not going to be able to complete this task. Can you please help me here? I feel terrible as I know it puts you in a tough spot, but you know; you know me how things are. Let me know what to do.
Creating a visual image of yourself like this is also not desirable. You do not want to be seen as a weak person who is helpless and in distress.
If you want to be climbing the corporate ladder you need to be a leader. Leaders are confident, assertive empathetic, positive, and decisive.
Some of the other things that will make your communication as a leader amazingly effective are:
- Fast response times. Do not sit on your emails. If you do not have an answer respond saying you do not know etc. but do not ignore emails.
- Send less emails to receive less emails. This is a golden rule. The lesser emails you write the lesser is the chain of emails that rise due to which you receive lesser emails. Choose your mode of communication carefully. Something that will help you improve your productivity as well. If a simple phone call can do the job avoid email.
- Write brief short emails. Crisp clear and concise writing makes your writing immensely powerful.
- Say no to being copied on emails. Coach your direct team and one level below on what you want to be copied on and what you do not want to be copied. Limit as much as possible the number of people marked on the email to only critical topics. In an escalation case, give feedback to your team on the right timeframes. The more you communicate expectations the better.
- Is email the right medium? For feedback discussions, customer issues, conflict, difficult conversation, performance review, influencing someone, etc. It is always better to meet face to face or speak over the phone. Set a good example for your team to sort issues out fast rather than batting emails back and forth.
Remember A professionally written email includes seven parts: Communication Style, Clarity, Writing Style, Empathy, Sentiment & Emotion, Spelling & Grammar, and Word Statistics.
- Communication Style means the feeling the reader gets while reading your email. You could write a noticeably clear and expert email but if the reader feels it is passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive, it hurts your relationship and image with that person. You want your email to be assertive.
- Clarity means the email is highly readable, crisp, visually appealing, well- structured and has a clear purpose.
- Writing Style means you followed the correct writing etiquettes. Do you have the right opening and closing? Are there no casual or informal words? All words are spelled correctly and have the right grammar. Is your email sounding like an amateur or a professional?
- Empathy means how well you understood, appreciated, connected, and respected the reader’s feelings and emotions.
- Spelling and Grammar means the number of errors that continue to show up you have made in your email. These errors are counted after clicking the analyze button.
- Sentiment is the feeling the reader gets overall in reading your email. It could be positive, negative, or neutral. Emotion is defined by the type of words that you used. There are five types of text emotion: joy, anger, sadness, disgust, and fear.
- Word Statistics will tell you how many pet and filler words you had, number of unique words and I statements, sentence length and whether you used data or not.
Getting your email writing skills correct can improve your productivity, relationships and business results and thus contribute to your career growth immensely.
Write with a bang. Crisply, clearly, and effectively. Go to kwurd.com an AI coach for Emil Writing. It will analyze your emails on all the 7 parameters mentioned above within seconds.