Get your Emails to works for you – 3

Some Emails Were Never Meant To Be Sent

We have had tremendously positive responses to our email articles, so I will include a few more before moving on to another communication topic.

Some 93% of communication is in body language and tone. So with the written word as in this text, emails are words on a screen, or on paper if printed.

There are none of the other hints at meaning which we receive in verbal communication to give the email congruence. E.g. there is no tone, pitch, warmth, no facial expression or body language. So, it is amazingly easy to mis-communicate using email.

Whilst email is designed to make our working lives easier, it totally messes things up if used inappropriately.

Email is entirely appropriate for normal simple communication, to quickly transfer small documents and information to a number of people and to confirm appointments and meetings. It is also useful to confirm conversation content.

But – where there could be any doubt as to the meaning or tone of the email, then it is inappropriate and – don’t send it!

When the response to an email is confused, or even abrupt, then the initial email conveyed the wrong(?) message. A phone call is required urgently to smooth the way.

The are times where emails should not be used, including;

As above where you are replying to a negative undertone in an incoming email
There is no way to pull out the send button after it has been pressed. If another form of communication is needed, either pick up the phone, or go to visit face to face.

At all costs an email war is to be avoided, as two young ladies who used to work for a Sydney Law firm found out before they lost their jobs and made front page news last year.

Where the receiver is prone to misunderstanding anything but the most explicit and simple messages.
Again, a telephone call or face to face meeting is more appropriate.

Where you are in close physical proximity to another person e.g. open plan or nearby offices.
It is more supportive of a relationship to get up and talk to them, or to call them, than to send an email.

Where the message is private and/or personal.
Apart from the potential for someone else to be at the receiver’s desk when the email comes through and seeing a very personal message (oops), there is also the potential for mistakes or lapses in integrity.

A few years ago, a young woman made international front page news after sending a private, personal and complimentary, email one morning after a night before to her boyfriend. He forwarded the email to 11 very close(!) male friends and so it went global.

Where the message is confidential or not meant to be read by other parties then perhaps it should be verbal or by letter.
It is too easy for mistakes to be made with mis-forwarding and copying emails.

It goes without saying that rude, or sexually explicit email communication should not be sent.
I had the unpleasant task last year of cleaning up the mess after a complaint was made against a staff member who sent an explicitly pornographic video around the office.

It may be tempting to forward material of this sort when it comes into your inbox. Stop for a moment and think…
Would I give this email content to another person in paper format, would I tell them this joke face to face? Would I like my partner/kids to see this material with my name attached to the send from history?

Forwarding or sending material of this nature sends a secondary message to the receiver about our values. When the material is then forwarded to someone else then they know we have “bought into” the message being distributed.

As we have discovered already we cannot control what happens to an email when it has been sent. So think before sending!

Liz Cassidy, founder of Third Sigma International is an author, Speaker, Trainer and Executive Coach dedicated to facilitating results in the businesses, professional and personal lives of her clients. For more information http://www.thirdsigma.com.au

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