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Don’t Forget EQ in Your Email

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Have you ever received an email that was so abrupt and rude you felt offended, or so long and meandering that you gave you half way through?

Normally when we are speaking with someone we are doing more than listening to his or her words. We get as much or more information about their message from their body language, expression and tone. Even with a phone call we still have expression and tone.

Not so with email. By losing those nuances, we have to rely on the words alone. The person writing the mail has a specific intended message (hopefully) and the person reading the email, interprets meanings from the words in that message, according to the assumptions they make and sometimes what is going on in their day. It is important therefore, to be intentional about our email and to use clear unambiguous language.

Also remember that the emails you send are representing your professional self in your absence. This means that it is important to pay attention how you might be perceived by both what you have written and how you have presented it.

Some Email Tips

  • Set an intention or an outcome for your email: what is it’s purpose and what are you hoping to achieve. You can put this in your subject line so that the recipient knows exactly what it is about.
  • Be respectful of others time: don’t ramble but get to the point. Be succinct and clear about the response you are after.
  • Be polite: manners are important, demonstrate respect and set a friendly tone. Always start with a greeting. And remember that abruptness is amplified in an email.
  • Consider the recipient: your relationship to them, when you last spoke to them and what about, before you decide how informal or familiar you can be and how much information you need to include.
  • Presentation: watch your spelling, capitals, grammar and abbreviations: avoid SMS shortcuts in an email – even if you are responding from a phone. Always attach a signature for consistency and to help people easily contact you.
  • Check meaning: if you are responding to an email, check in with your own assumptions and the meanings you have made. If they are negative ask yourself how you know that what you believe is true and what other explanations could there be. Check back for meaning via phone call or face-to-face.
  • Signing off: there are so many options here, from ‘cheers’  to ‘thanks’  to a more formal Kind Regards. As a rule of thumb, your email close should be reflective of the content of your email(s) and your relationship with the person your are sending it to.

If you would like to improve your EQ and communication skills or those of your team then please contact me on debra.pittam@personcentredleadership.com. Also check out my Facebook page where I share on leadership, wellbeing and communication. Look forward to seeing you there!

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