Communication is a vital role in your success. Jobs have been won and lost over communication. Messages have been well received or poorly received based on how they are communicated. Email has given abilities to easily spread a message across a very wide audience in sub second response time.
This is the area that you can benefit from immediately if you make significant changes. If you concentrate on communication, you will stand out. Many people are so busy these days, that they are hurrying their communications. They are ‘throwing up’ in email- giving WAY TOO MUCH information for anyone to absorb. They are not selecting the text or the layout in a way to ensure the communication achieves the necessary goals. This is where marketing skills can come in very handy. Try to apply marketing skills to communication. It will take you a long ways.
Email can be both a very valuable tool and a very harsh weapon. It is like a knife, knives can be used to chop tomatoes or to kill a man. We couldn’t chop tomatoes without them, so they are a valuable tool. That same tool can kill people, so they are a dangerous weapon. Email falls into the same category.
There are rules that I advise you to follow for increased success:
- Don’t use email to avoid the chain of command.
- Clearly state your expectations.
- Is the email for information only? State FYI, no action required.
- Do you require an answer to move forward? State: Advice requested. Please respond by __________ (date).
- Would you like an approval?
- Do you need that approval in writing? State, please email approval.
- No approval needed in writing? State, if no response within 7 days, I will move this initiative/project/task forward.
- Only send necessary emails.
- If you were cc’d and you are replying, there is no need to ‘Reply All’.
- Treat every email like it costs you $10 for every person that you email or cc.
- Clearly state your objectives.
- Do not respond to an email when you are angry. IF the matter is urgent, and will cause conflict, pick up the phone.
- Make sure the Topic Line references what the email is about.
Imagine defending each email in front of a lawyer or a court of law. Imagine that your boss reads all of your emails. These filters can often keep you in a professional tone and keep the message positive and accomplishing its intentions.
Information comes at us in more ways than we can possibly review and ‘think’ of. At one point in my career, I had global product responsibilities for four product lines. I was getting anywhere from 130-150 emails a day that I needed to respond to, and several junk emails on top of that. I am sure that each person that emailed me imagined that I would be able to promptly respond to their emails. Each layer that you go higher on the ladder, the pressure and number of responsibilities grows, as do the number of emails that you receive a day. Think of email like getting your mail out of your mailbox every day. You sort through them and read the ones that are easy to read or respond to.
It is important to respect others’ time in your emails. I advise you take a minimalist approach. Only send the email if you feel that it is VERY important. Minimize the number of words that you use in the email. Use BOLD and italicized words in your emails. Use colors for drawing attention to certain lines. Use bullets (•) to bring out key points, and ALWAYS state your intentions and what you expect them to do with your email. If it is URGENT – state Priority 1 or Urgent in the message line. If it is really urgent, then leave them a voice mail as well. Do not assume that they are connected to email when you need an urgent message. They may be on a flight, out of the country, or just sitting in meetings.
Apply these tidbits of advice and you are sure to accomplish more, stand out and be recognized.
by Bethany Williams