Are You Sending Rude Emails Unintentionally? 15-Point Checklist
Entire business departments have been thrown into a panicked frenzy because of them. Bosses have come close to firing loyal employees because of them. Friendships have been ruined because of them. Reputations have been damaged because of them. What has so much power to cause so much misery? People are unintentionally sending messages that are perceived as rude emails because they come across as demanding, disrespectful or insubordinate.
In business, especially via email, we often sacrifice kindness and respect in an attempt to be concise and to the point. Just “wanting to be quick” can lead to communication that is impoverished and more likely to be misunderstood.
We understand words in conjunction with vocal pitch and tone, speed and cadence, pauses, gestures, poses, and facial expressions. For example, we know that a twinkle in the eye and a smile softens corrective feedback. But with email, it’s very easy to convey frustration and judgment, because an email misses those auditory and kinesthetic elements of in-person conversation.
As human beings, no matter the situation, we want to feel seen, acknowledged and respected. However, in today’s world of emails and text messaging, clear and concise communication becomes complicated. Email strips a conversation bare, leaving it open to the receiver’s interpretation, which is largely based on their own cultural background, knowledge, biases, or current emotional state.
Since it’s often not what you say, but how you say it, that is perceived by your audience, how can you ensure your emails aren’t perceived as “rude emails” but are well received and elicit the responses you desire?
I’ve created a Checklist to help you avoid some of the common pitfalls. Here are five ways to check yourself and ten ways to check your email, before hitting the Send button…
- Check your mood. If you’re rushed, frustrated or impatient, find your center and calm down before you write and send an email.
- Be deliberate. My favorite NLP presupposition says: “The meaning of my communication is the response that I get.” This means that in communication, I’m 100% responsible for what I communicate. If the other person misunderstands, I have to recheck how I communicated.
- Reflect on your tone. If you would hesitate to say something to someone’s face, don’t write it in an email.
- Be concise, but engage your heart. Always remember that on the other side of your email is a human being. Use all your interpersonal skills and make sure you convey care and respect.
- Continue to refine your communication skills. We’re always in the process of improving our skills that lead to deeper personal and professional relationships. And, since your success hinge highly on your connections, excellent communication is vital!
Check your email:
- CC, BCC, or Reply All carefully. Only loop in the people who need to see what you have to say.
- Limit negative feedback or correction via email. Negatives become especially negative in email form, so discern when in-person communication is more appropriate.
- Use exclamation points sparingly. Enough said.
- Remember the power in a name. Keep it personal by acknowledging the person by name; and sign off with either your name or at least your initial(s).
- Include niceties. At the beginning of the day, or if you haven’t had a contact for awhile, a few kind words keeps brief messages from sounding brusque.
- Give detailed, weighty messages the respect they deserve. “Got it” or “Fine!” will appear flippant and rude.
- Proofread. Improper grammar, spelling and punctuation convey the idea that you don’t care.
- Create a clear message in the subject line. If your message is time sensitive, include a date or time, instead of URGENT or ASAP.
- Write in an easy-to-read format. Use white space to visually separate thoughts. Bullet points or bold type can highlight important details. However, all capital letters or boldface is perceived as “shouting.”
- Read it out loud. Make sure all relevant information is included in a manner that is clearly understood.
Miscommunication occurs when people have different expectations about the messages they send and receive. Making assumptions about your audience’s expectations increases the risk that your message, or its tone, will be misinterpreted.
You’ll put your best foot forward, if you remember to ask yourself, “Who is my audience? How would I talk to them in person? What kind of impression do I want to make?”
Would you like to learn more about how NLP coaching can enhance your relationships through effective communication skills? Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).