Do you know how you’re perceived by email? Without visual or audible cues, it may be difficult for a person on the other end to get a true sense of who you are. You’re left with the words on the page, which can sometimes be misleading. For example, a Wall Street Journal article tells the story of a consultant who emailed detailed project plans to a client. The client’s response? “Noted.” The consultant thought he was dissatisfied with her work because of the short reply.
But it turns out the client was thrilled with her performance and she was so thorough that he didn’t have to be hands on with the project.This type of miscommunication could have easily been avoided with some simple tweaks to the tone of the email. Entrepreneur Magazine provides 3 tips for improving your emails so you get your message across while fostering positive relationships.
Accentuate the positive
Word choice creates a tone for your emails. The more negative words you include, the more angry, condescending, or terse your email will sound. Try to focus on the positive when sending emails. Avoid works like cannot, damage, do not, error, fail, little value, loss, mistake, not, problem, stop, unable to, unfortunately, escalation, never, and inability. Business culture is very important, especially in a small firm. Demonstrating appreciation and enthusiasm will motivate employees and clients through positive reinforcement.
Avoid “do not”
In line with the idea of positive reinforcement, try to lead by example. Rather than focusing on what people should not do in emails, try suggesting what they should do. For example, instead of “don’t be late,” try “please arrive five minutes early to the meeting” since it has a more positive tone.
When in doubt, spell it out
Be explicit about your feelings in emails to ensure that tone is not misinterpreted. For example, if you’re feeling frustrated about your email client, rather than write a terse email to a colleague, delineate that the email client is frustrating you, but that you can meet on Friday. That way your colleague knows that you are frustrated about something else and not them, even though your email might be less friendly than usual. Try rereading your email before sending it to evaluate and improve the tone.
Client and colleague relationships are critical when building a small business. While email tone may seem insignificant, fostering positivity in the people around you can help motivate employees, make customers more likely to work with you again, and create a stronger company culture. Being mindful about what you’re writing when you’re writing can make all the difference.