Writing formal emails becomes a challenge when our minds are hungrily searching for the best words. When it comes to written communication, it's important to find words of value. By this, I mean that each word should work in a unique way to create positive meaning for the reader. A writer or speaker's ability to use the right word at the right time demonstrates confidence and professionalism. Good written communication enhances working relationships.
Here are five life lessons I've learned about email etiquette.
Overloaded words in an email simply lead to confusion. I've seen awkward situations where overloaded words raised more "ego-driven questions" and lead to more arguments.
Good writing isn't always about using more words. Good writing is about being simple, clear, concise, and precise. Leaving out unnecessary words keeps an email simple and clean. This avoids confusion and improves communication.
Too many complicated words may cause recipients to continuously refer to dictionaries. It may cause anxiety, perplexity, over-thinking, delayed responses, and affects work efficiency.
Practice keeping emails simple and clear.
Practice Purposeful Questioning
It's good to ask questions because questions clarify doubts and promote understanding. But I'm careful not to turn into a "questioning machine" that questions every statement. Asking questions is easy, answering is a difficult process. A series of unnecessary questions may annoy recipients and jeopardizes work efficiency.
In an email, it is good to be mindful of how many questions I ask and be aware of the purpose behind my questions.
Flooding an email with questions may also reflect five types of situations:
1.) The questioner has a lot of free time.
2.) The questioner lacks confidence in making decisions.
3.) The questioner releases passive moods in the form of questions.
4.) The questioner works hard to appear intelligent and gain validation.
5.) The questioner just wants to satisfy his/her own curiosity and may not be fully aware of the purpose of his/her questions.
I've gotten into the habit of only asking purposeful questions. I usually keep my questions simple, direct, polite, and clear. If I've more burning questions, I prefer to call and talk to the person to gain more clarity and manage time.
Watch The Emotions
It's important to watch out for negative emotions when writing emails. Cloudy emotions lead to unclear thinking. Unclear thinking leads to poorly written communication.
I practice being emotionally detached when reading and responding to unfriendly emails. I pause, relax, and pay attention to my breath. Watching my breath helps bring my mind into the present moment of peace. When I'm calm, I can compose good emails with clear responses.
Never Try To Embarrass Anyone in an Email
I've learned not to express aggression and frustration to a party and let everyone on the carbon copy list see it. Embarrassing others in emails show signs of poor emotional and empathic intelligence. It also reflects power control and domination.
Such actions can affect the recipient mentally and emotionally. It makes the recipient feel uncomfortable. It even breaks trust and strains working relationships. No matter how well disguised these rude and condescending words are, a sharp and attentive reader will easily recognize the negative intent behind them.
Embarrassing someone in an email doesn't lead to progressive change or productive results. It leaves only pain, bad memories and impressions, and working experiences.
Focus On Solutions
When I communicate in an email, I focus on finding solutions. This helps me stay alert to ideas and methods that may improve, stagnate, or worsen a situation. For example, some email communication starts with the goal of finding solutions but ends in arguments.
I usually take some time to pay attention, study, and clearly understand a problem. I tell myself that "solutions are hidden inside problems." Studying the problem helps me to improve my communication and gradually leads to finding better solutions.
I've learned that problems in communication can arise from unhealed emotions and personal struggles. In some situations, email communication becomes a "ranting point" to release emotions.
It's important to practice the art of using polite and pleasant words. To put it simply, it is good to practice writing in a way that makes the recipient feel confident, safe, and comfortable.
We can also develop the ability to respond to passive-aggressive and rude comments calmly. We can express our emotions in a grounded way without losing them.
It's good to train our minds to be ready to handle tough situations that arise from difficult email communication. We can practice learning from such situations and improve our skills to handle situations better. The qualities that help us achieve excellent email etiquette are mental clarity, empathy, and intelligence.
These lessons taught me to write emails in a way that empowers and encourages my working partners. Emails and any forms of written communications become great constructive tools if we work together to remove the harmful words. Good speaking and writing skills (communications) are bridges to human connections. It’s our responsibility to keep these bridges strong and stable.