Every hour, most professionals see dozens of emails stream into their inbox. The onslaught of communication means hours every day spent reading, digesting, and responding to these messages. It’s those responses that can sometimes land us in sticky situations.
The business world’s favored communication method might be an email, but it’s far from a perfect method. Tone, intent, and phrasing can be misunderstood in written communication where the customer might read the same message in different ways. There’s no facial expression and no personal touch to make sure your message is received exactly the way you intended it to be. However, there are a few ways you can make sure to always sound respectful and professional.
- Stay human.
No matter what message you happen to be writing, there’s going to be a person on the other side of the screen reading it in the end! Make sure that your emails sound human and don’t be afraid to have some personality in them. Nobody wants to have to read a message that sounds like it was written by a robot.
- Keep it brief.
You know that feeling you get when you open up and email and realize you’re looking at a dense paragraph and all you feel is an overwhelming urge to hit delete? Everyone has that feeling. If you’re in the process of writing an email that’s turning into a novel the length of The Old Man and the Sea, try trimming things down. Make sure you break up the paragraphs into digestible pieces, and if all else fails, it might be time to schedule a call.
- Know your audience.
Some customers might prefer very brief messages with no small talk involved. Others might take a concise message as rude or abrupt. By continuing to communicate with your customers, you will learn what kind of tone they tend to prefer and you’ll be able to tailor your approach. Additionally, if you’re writing to a more experienced professional vs. a young professional, you may want to strike a different tone! If you’re wondering how old you sound in your emails, you can use this tool to find out!
- Be responsive.
There’s nothing worse than waiting by your inbox for a message that takes days or weeks to arrive. Keep on top of your inbox and make sure you get back to people in a timely manner.
- Watch your passive-aggressive statements.
Everyone gets frustrated sometimes, but phrases like “per my last email” and “just a friendly reminder” put people’s backs up. Everyone knows exactly what kind of tone they’re meant to convey. Before you hit send, take those phrases out. There’s no need to invite that kind of trouble.
No matter what line of work you’re in, email is an integral part of business communication. It may not be a perfect system, but taking these steps will minimize miscommunications and keep the trains running on time!