Effective communication is, unfortunately, becoming a dying art. Many junior employees are unsure of how to formulate a professional email and this can lead to miscommunication or inaccurate perceptions of their abilities. As emojis make their way into professional emails, we need to take a moment and reevaluate the ways we communicate in the workplace.
First, it is important to understand your own communication style. Are you quiet and team-oriented or are you talkative and efficient? Do you like to write long-winded emails using your handy thesaurus or are you short and curt? If you need some help determining your communication style, there are many free online surveys you can take. But more importantly you should take some time to reflect on yourself and the environment you like to work in as well as the parts of your personality that contribute to your style and also the style that you are most comfortable using. Once you have increased your own self-awareness you can start looking at others in your workplace. You will quickly see that everyone communicates slightly differently. What is truly important is for you to also recognize that not one style is better than another, we all have strengths and also areas where we could improve.
The best piece of advice about writing an email I have ever received is that you need to know your audience, then you can make the proper adjustments. It is always better to adjust your own style to adapt to others around you. Be the bigger person.
Although I am focusing on email etiquette there are multiple routes of communication. Talking face to face is very different than talking on the phone or through email. When you are face to face with someone you can read their expression and hear the tone in their voice as well as use body language. When talking over the phone you can no longer use body language or see facial reactions, it is important to use tone of voice. Many people who have worked in customer service know that just by smiling through the phone you can change the way you sound and the way your message is received.
Now the majority of your communication will likely be through email. When using email there is no tone, no body language or facial expressions; something people also don’t consider is that you only get the one chance to get your point across. You can’t say something and then have it turn into a long conversation where you can further prove your point and have a meaningful discussion. No pressure but when you send an email, that’s it. Sometimes a follow up is necessary but this can turn out looking unprofessional. So before you send that email make sure that you check your facts and if you are asking a question make sure it is to the right person. Also make sure that you cannot Google the answer to that question. Sorry to burst your bubble but in the corporate world there are stupid questions. Kind of the same way you shouldn’t be asking your professor what chapters are covered on tomorrow’s midterm; you should not be going to your supervisor with questions like “what room is the staff meeting in?” Find a buddy and ask them instead.
When writing an email punctuation becomes very important, this is how you will portray your tone and style. But make sure you use punctuation properly, there’s a big difference between let’s eat Dad and let’s eat, Dad.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, emojis are becoming increasingly popular in corporate emails. However, not everyone appreciates emojis and that is why you need to know your audience! Feel the person out and never use an emoji unless the person has sent you one first. 😉
Another key point for writing emails is understanding the length and detail someone wants in the email. Nobody likes reading long emails, they simply don’t have time. But you can’t leave it too short and not give enough information. Again, if you are working with someone who likes long emails with lots of details, cater to that.
Finally, when in doubt pick up the phone and give the person a call or walk over to their work station and have a conversation face to face.
Those are just a few tips when it comes to communicating effectively in the workplace through email. I find sending the perfect email has taken me a ton of practice since I am naturally very curt and it comes across, at times, rude. I have learned to always sneak in a final: let me know if you have questions or please give me a call if you’d like to discuss further. This softens the tone of the email and is generally perceived as polite and helpful.
Now let’s practice:
“Thank you Tys”= good
“thx tys”= bad