I use email all of the time. We are in an email society. And I’ve heard that email is going away to make room for tools like Twitter and Facebook…. we’ll see.
But I think email has the potential to be a very very bad thing. In an email, it is almost impossible to ascertain the tone of the one writing. Everything is very concrete, blank and white, and soulless. Because of this, the recipient receives the message, “this person is mad at me,” “they are grumpy,” “they are so cold,” “why so terse?”
I understand this and do my best to swing the other way. There are times to be business like. But if I am emailing to people I have a relationship with, I do my best to make the email as happy as possible, especially with volunteers on my team. I want there to be no question that I’m not in a good mood. Here are some tips:
- This isn’t grammer school. Lighten up. It’s ok to use words like ‘ARGH’. If Charlie Brown can say it, why not I?
- ‘!!’ is your friend. ‘Good morning!!!’ comes across a lot differently than ‘Dear Bob,’.
- Convey that you are in a good mood! They say to smile when you are on the phone. Somehow smile while you type. Use emoticons if appropriate. :0)
- Communicate internal dialogue. “Hey Bob! I was thinking the other day that the system we are using to setup might be outdated (sometimes I think too much – but I’d rather think too much than too little).” People don’t know what your thinking unless you type what your thinking. Maybe they’ll be able to hook that brain thingy to our heads and link it up with our computers – but we’re not there yet.
- Humor. I always try to lighten the mood with humor. Make sure you have a sense of humor before you try this.
- Type how you talk. The best advice I ever received from a teacher is ‘type how you talk.’ That took me out of “how do I write this mode” into “just type how I would say it to them in person.” In a fluid conversation you don’t just regurgitate facts. Why then do that in an email? You have side-bars, you have ‘by the ways’, you have almost a controlled rambling going on. If that is how you talk, then email that way. It portrays a more personable person on the other end.
- Match the email tone to the recipient. I would never do any of these things if I was emailing the president of Bank of America. But the more personable the relationship, the more you can use the tips.
- Read the email before hitting send!!! Have someone else read it if need be. Google Mail has an ‘undo send’ function that has saved my toosh many times. It’s under the ‘labs’ portion of settings.
- If the email’s tone is one of rebuke or accountability, probably not a good idea to email anyway. Pick up the phone.
I hope this helps free you to email in a more friendly way. Of course, use common sense. Probably not a good idea to sound that happy if you are emailing a friend who’s dog just died.