How to communicate effectively through e-mail?
Communication through email is being more and more used, whether for personal or professional reasons. Almost every day, we end up sending an email:
- To book a medical consultation;
- To send digitalized documents or pictures;
- To schedule meetings;
- To ask for the state of progress at work, change of schedules, …
There are several and varied reasons why we need to communicate, however we should always follow a few steps that allow us to do this in a correct and assertive way:
Define the subject
Especially for professional emails, we should be careful to not mix topics in order to avoid confusion or originate potential future losing of information.
CC: John, Michael, Alice
Good afternoon John,
I need to finish the negotiation with the client and he asked us to evaluate the possibility of reducing the interest rate. Can you please analyze this situation and send me feedback?
P.s. The Friday meeting is now at 3pm instead of 5pm.
P.s. This is an example of what we should NOT do. Why?
The P.s. should add content regarding the first information presented. This could be: ”P.s. The current interest rate is of 1.45%.” We cannot escape to the first subject because, beyond mixing topics, in case the receiver wants to find the email with the meeting schedule, that email is not identified as such.
The ideal is to define:
- Meeting with client of company X;
- Update of client´s Y script;
- DMT Recruitment;
If I forget my access password, I will know where to find it. If I need to know the state of play of a process, I know which email is referring to it. Without confusion and without losing time.
Define the people who to send
In the previous email, Pedro added 3 people to send to, however he only addressed John. If the people in question really need to know about this email, he did it quite well. If they do not need it, it is totally unnecessary for us to add and for them to receive emails that are not useful to them. If it is a common project, we must clearly define what we want from each one:
‘’ João – Check the rate reduction please.
Rui – Attach all updates to the customer’s process, please.
Carla – Deal please with this customer’s billing for the previous month ‘’
Say what you want
Our communication must be direct in order not to complicate the interpretation. If we want an update, we ask for the update. If we have a question, we should ask it directly.
Nothing is more unpleasant than receiving a confusing e-mail that we need to reread dozens of times until we can minimally understand the purpose. The information must be clear, direct and assertive.
Review and correct
Sending a misspelled email will give a bad image of us and create doubts about our professionalism. As such, we must always be careful to reread it before sending, and make sure that there are no errors in punctuation or grammar. We may lose a few minutes here, but we will ensure that we do not make no mistakes.
In addition to typos, we should avoid:
- Interpretation errors – we must ensure that the tone of the email is neither authoritative nor aggressive, as we are communicating only verbally. The recipient will not have access to our non-verbal language and will soon be able to interpret it in their own way, and this interpretation may be different from what we intend to convey.
- Use capital letters – they convey aggressiveness (as if we were shouting). Give preference to the use of bold to highlight important information.
- Complex words – it is better to be simple than to be writing sophisticated novels – it is important to adapt the writing to the receiver’s power of interpretation. We should use simple and clear words that convey what you want without complications.
When we have already said what we intended, we need finish our e-mail, ensuring that everything is clear and leaving the final open message to contact back if any clarification is needed. Here, if we do not have a signature in the email, the ideal is to make sure that we provide all the necessary information for the stakeholder to contact us later, whether through our telephone contact or personal email. This will always depend on the situations themselves.