Many companies use email extensively as a communication tool, especially when people are spread out and working on various projects as teams. This is both good and bad news. It's good because it's a way to keep everyone current and on the same page. It's bad when emotions creep in and finger-pointing occurs.
We all learned how to write letters years and years ago, but who is teaching the email etiquette today?
Here are some rules of thumb to remember and teach your staff. I advise judicious use of email, and recommend that you pick up a phone when someone or something starts to spin out of control.
Long, even endless, email strings are unproductive. They are time suckers, often requiring the participants to piece together information that may not be readily available.
It becomes worse when someone is in a hurry and dashes off an abrupt email that has a damaging tone. The author of such an email may not even realize the degree to which he or she has set off a chain reaction of negativity to those who are copied on the email string.
How do you do it better?
–Limit the number of people on the email to those who are directly involved. Don't bring in people midstream, because they're entering the conversation without knowing what has already happened.
–Watch your tone. If you're angry, draft first, let it sit, then edit it so you won't regret it later.
–And, if you do blow it and send off a nasty email, apologize immediately.
–Use your voice (phone or in person) where feasible. People understand tone and emphasis much more readily than what is in print.
–Watch your subject lines. Long email strings often change topic along the way, yet maintain the original subject line. Change the subject line or start fresh.
Taking the extra few minutes to write more effective and polite emails is well worth the time involved.
Do the right thing for your team, and you'll be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.