Are Your Emails Sending the Right Message at Work?

Learn how to write effective emails at work.

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Recent surveys have shown that employees spend more than 16 hours a week answering emails. If you’re going to spend so much time sending messages, you should make them as effective as possible. But, we all know that emails can be easily misconstrued. Read below for some tips on how to make sure you’re sending the right message!

Don’t Use Emails For Negative Messages

While it might seem easier to deal with difficult issues by email rather than in person, this may cause problems down the line. When problems are complicated and relationships might be damaged if things aren’t worked out, it’s important to try to deal with issues in person. Research shows that this may be especially true when you’re sending emails to those you don’t know well.

Because emails give fewer emotional clues about how you’re feeling, sitting down and talking a difficult problem through with someone can get things dealt with more efficiently and make everyone happier in the long run. So, especially if you haven’t been working with someone for a long time, avoid the urge to write an email when something goes wrong. Try to sit down and have a productive conversation about what needs to happen next instead. Also, it may go without saying, but using all capital letters, excessive punctuation (think !!!!!!!!!! after a request), or profanity is never a good idea.

phone email
You send a lot of emails. How are coworkers perceiving them?

Play Up the Positive in Your Emails

Even if you don’t have negative information to convey, research shows that your email may be likely to be interpreted more negatively than you intended. For this reason, if you want to make sure you’re your message comes across as positive or supportive, you should try hard to actively be encouraging. You should also make sure to express your appreciation directly.

This is especially true if you’re sending an email to people who work for you. Employees read more into emails that come from superiors. You have to be extra careful to be actively positive when communicating to those you manage. Make sure you say what you mean! If you think that someone did a great job, say so. If you want to thank someone for their hard work, spell out clearly that you think they are rocking it. This will help with engagement. It will also ensure that your colleagues don’t misinterpret an email meant to be positive as neutral.

Read and Reread Important Emails Before You Respond

You are likely to misread your colleagues’ emails as well. This is more likely to be true when you are reading an email from someone you don’t know as well or from someone who you report to. If you get an email from your boss, for example, you may be reading too much into their tone. This may cause you to have strained relationships  because you think they feel more negatively about you than they do.

Before responding to an email that you interpret as negative, make sure that you have good reason to interpret it that way. If you’re not sure how your colleagues or your boss feels about your performance, it might be good to meet with them to get clarity. That will help you to get a better sense of what they would like you to do next. Overall, make sure that you are approaching emails assuming that your coworkers’ intentions are good. If you think you have reason to believe that coworkers are upset with you, you might want to request a quick meeting in your response. This will ensure everyone is on the same page.

typing emails
Are you taking time to read your emails before you respond?

Keep Emails Simple

Your coworkers are more likely to misunderstand emails that are too complex. Plus, people are less likely to read long emails. Thus, a really simple takeaway for making sure that your emails are interpreted the right way is to be clear and to the point. Try to cut out unnecessary language and make sure that you lay out your main points plainly.

Also, if you want people to take certain actions as a result of the email, try to list them. The easier you can make the email to understand, the more likely it will be that folks know how to proceed. Then, adding encouragement at the beginning and end of the email can motivate people to complete the actions you suggest. Try thanking people for their prior work at the beginning of the email. You can also let everyone know you have faith that they will do a stellar job with new requests at the end.

simple emails
When it comes to sending emails, keep it streamlined and straightforward.

Take Some Time Away From Emails Each Day

Finally, taking some time away from emails each day might help you to feel more positively about your team overall. Spending too much time with workplace technology can make you feel overloaded and less able to balance your work and family commitments. This can make you less committed to your work overall.

Try to set boundaries that work for you. Maybe you make a rule that you won’t answer emails before or after a certain time each day. Take some time in the middle of the day to take a walk or doing something you enjoy. Perhaps you decide not to answer emails over the weekend. Whatever the right solution is for you, the point is the same. Taking some time away from your emails is a good thing.

How do you make sure your emails are understood properly? How do you make sure that you’re responding to emails appropriately? What do you do to disconnect from technology to avoid burnout? We have talked about remote work before – do you have tips for disconnecting when working virtually? Let us know your favorite strategies for sending effective messages in the comments below!

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