E-mail Communication Help: Crucial Tips Your Boss Forgot to Metion

In today’s world, e-mail has become one of the primary means of communication. Whether it’s at work or home, some of us receive hundreds of e-mails a day. Who can read and process this much, I ask?? In my workplace some people can have whole e-mail conversations lasting hours or days on a subject that could take 15 mins if someone decided to pick up the phone.

Don’t you ever feel like pulling your hair trying to keep up with e-mail traffic? Or that you have not accomplished anything productive most of the day other than responding to e-mail? Do you feel stressed by the sheer volume of e-mail you receive every day? I certainly do.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”

George Bernard Show

So what can we do to take over the control that e-mails wield on us? To become more productive and less stressed? And to make our e-mails sources of true communication? Here are some tips that can help with that.

More productivity, less stress

According to numerous studies e-mail occupies 25% of employees’ average work day. That is 13 hrs each week! On top of that an average person checks their inbox over 30 times an hour i.e. almost every 2 mins.

You can easily see now why we feel stressed or that we have not accomplished much throughout the day. OK, so what do I do you ask?

  • First, turn off any visual and sound e-mail notification on your laptop, tablet or smartphone to avoid frequent distractions.
  • Then, set a couple of specific times in a day where you will be checking and responding to e-mails, for example, mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
  • Lastly, close your inbox outside of those times and focus on real work and your deliverables.

You will see that not only some of those lengthy e-mail conversations will take care of themselves by others jumping in but also in time people will stop expecting you responding right away. Think of this as setting ground rules and boundaries to protect your precious time.

By setting those boundaries your stress level will go down significantly. You don’t have to just believe me on this one. It’s been proven through research done by the University of California Irvine and the US Army.

And the best of all, you will now have time to work on those assignments you have been struggling to finish, meet the deadlines and get recognized!

From illusion to real communication

Studies conducted at UCLA have shown that 50% of communication happens through facial expressions and body language, 40% through voice intonation and only 10% through actual words.

As you can see, having your reader understand the e-mail you sent them in a way you intended it is not that easy since 90% of your potential success is impossible to get via e-mail.

The below tips will help your e-mail communication be more effective:

  • Before sending an e-mail ask yourself first: is this the best way to communicate? Can I solve my issue faster with a quick phone call?
  • Make sure your subject line is clear and conveys the purpose of your e-mail.
  • If you want your reader to take an action, be clear on what you need them to do and by when.
  • Keep in mind that it is tough to convey emotions just in words, for example, humor; unless you know the receiver very well, try staying away from that to avoid unintended misinterpretations.
  • Avoid exclamation marks, especially multiple in one row. I am sure your intention is not to scream at the person.
  • Don’t assume that your reader will know how to interpret the message; always proofread it before sending by putting yourself in their shoes.
  • Lastly, never hit sent if you are emotional. If an e-mail you received upset you, don’t react – you will regret it after. Before responding, step away from your computer, come back after an hour or two and then type the answer. Have someone else read it before hitting send.

Now a few e-mail etiquette tips for Bosses

As a leader, leading by example is your job.

This includes e-mail communication. Even if you don’t care about the titles and think that yours does not matter, remember that for others it does. The more “powerful” your title is, the more people feel pressed to respond to your e-mails right away and the more sensitive they are reading them.

That is why on top of the above tips that can help anyone, here are couple of others that Bosses should take to heart.

  • Don’t send e-mails when you are busy and rushing. Sending short sentences through your smartphone with no common courtesy words like “hi”, “thank you” or “please” will just upset your reader and slow them down taking time to bring their emotions back in check. It pays off to take the time to write a proper professional e-mail no matter what. You can also pick up the phone and have a pleasant conversation that will take less time, deliver what you need, and become another positive chip in your relationship with the employee.
  • When the e-mail chain you have started is turning into a “Never Ending Story”, stop the madness and set up a quick meeting. You will save everyone’s time, including yours, and clear up any misunderstandings that the chain inevitably created.
  • If you really need to send e-mails after hours or on the weekends to catch-up, be clear with your employees that they do not need to respond right away; you will reduce their stress levels and increase engagement.

“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success. “

Paul J. Mayer

To sum up, paraphrasing Paul Mayer’s wisdom, if we want to be successful, we need to know how to communicate with others. E-mail is just one means of communication but probably the most challenging one. Let’s never assume that our reader will know how to interpret the meaning of our message. Going against our crazy busy world, slowing down, and taking the time to write meaningful and thought through e-mails will always pay off.

Any change starts with you.

Know how to communicate and you will be successful

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