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  • feedwordpress 10:15:00 on 2017/05/22 Permalink
    Tags: best practices for administrative professionals, , effective communication, email, email management, managing your executive's email, , , receiving email, sending email   

    Email That Works: Best Practices for Truly Busy People 

    email that works best practices for assistants

    How would you describe your e-mail situation lately?

    Are you getting so much that it’s sometimes impossible to manage it properly and still be productive? Do you worry you’ll hit the “send” button too soon, and deliver a message before its ready? Take heart….You’re not alone!

    E-mail technology has been great – but it has also wreaked havoc on the way we communicate. For example, you can shoot back a reply to an e-mail in lickety-split time. The question is, should you? Thinking about what the message ought to say often becomes secondary to our ability to communicate immediately. And whenever action precedes thought, trouble will likely follow at some point or another, as you know.

    When you’re a “Star” in your profession, you take the time to think before speaking or sending any kind of message – in electronic or written form. These tips can help you be an even more effective communicator – and prevent e-mail problems that can impact your impressive professional image:

    When receiving e-mail:

    • Sort incoming messages according to importance and the need to act on them. Some people create folders within their email programs. Others print off messages and track them that way. Hint: If your e-mail program permits you to “manage” messages – sending them to folders without showing up in your inbox, for instance – you may want to explore that option. Talk to your office’s IT person.
    • Respond only when necessary. If no action is required, save everyone’s time and avoid replying with something generic like “OK.”
    • Act within 24 hours, if possible. If you must reply, try to do so within one day. This isn’t always feasible, of course – but it’s a best practice we can all strive to achieve.
    • Check email several times a day, rather than constantly, to prevent interruptions that decrease productivity.

    When sending e-mail:

    • Decide if e-mail is the best way to communicate. Time-sensitive information, as well as potential conflicts, should be handled either face-to-face or on the phone. Remember: E-mail may be “instant” but not for everyone. And e-mails don’t always deliver your tone of voice properly, which can result in miscommunication at critical, sensitive times. In those cases, verbal communication is preferable.
    • Consider your recipients’ learning styles. How would they prefer to receive the information you’re sending? If they’re “to the point” people, rely on short sentences and bullets. For detail-oriented readers be specific – but consider placing a “nut paragraph” at the top of the e-mail that boils down the essence to one short statement. That way, they’ll know if they need to read or act upon the message ASAP.
    • Insert recipient names in the “To” field only when you’re finished writing your message. This is the best way to prevent sending e-mails too soon with a mistaken click of the “send” button.
    • Reread for tone. We’ve already addressed how e-mails are prone to “tone problems.” So, before sending any message, read it from the recipient’s point of view. If you find anything that could be misunderstood or taken the wrong way, carefully reword that sentence for greater clarity\
    • Keep emails short and to the point.
      If the information can be conveyed in a paragraph or two, send an email. If it takes longer than this, the information may warrant a phone call or personal interaction.

    It’s your turn! What are your best practices for email management? Are you a fan of Inbox Zero? Let’s talk about it below.

    The post Email That Works: Best Practices for Truly Busy People appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
  • feedwordpress 21:47:59 on 2016/04/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , email, , , misinterpretation, negative impressions,   

    Email Sends Wrong Signal 

    The training program went so well that one of the participants e-mailed me gushing about how much she learned. So much that she wanted to get together for lunch to “pick my brain”. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but said sure, give me a call.

    I’m not a big let’s have lunch person.  Due to the nature of our business, I’m often not in the office and when I am, I need the time to prepare for upcoming engagements. After accounting for traveling there, lunch time and traveling back, lunch frequently means taking a half day off. However, I didn’t want to turn her down and send the wrong message. She was respectful and told me she valued my time and because she was located an hour from me, she would pick a restaurant close to my office.

    When her assistant emailed a meeting invite several weeks later, I accepted. A few days before our meeting, she cancelled. The assistant rescheduled and she cancelled again. I offered to schedule a call instead. She said she’d rather meet in person. Two months later, lunch was rescheduled again.

    As the date approached, she emailed asking me to find a restaurant in an area about 40 minutes away from my office, which she said would be easier for her to get to that day. Annoyed that she apparently forgot she respected my time and unfamiliar with the neighborhood, I reached out to some colleagues for recommendations, but no one had any.

    Trying to be cooperative, I suggested several alternative places that were closer to both of us. She emailed me back with another suggestion that required even more travel time for both of us.

    My exact response: “Sure, though I think that’s probably further for both of us. Whatever works is fine. See you tomorrow.”

    Yet when tomorrow came, I was greeted with this early morning email:

    “Karen, maybe I have a misunderstanding. Aren’t we a client of yours? I am surprised about how difficult it is to arrange a simple lunch. This is not urgent or pressing. I was hoping to engage you for some services with my team. I don’t think that it’s going to work out at this point. We can let lunch go for now.”

    Dumbfounded, I stared at the email, then read it again to make sure I was reading it correctly. Upset that she was upset, but irritated at her response, I called, got her voicemail and left an apology. Then I emailed her back saying:

    “I profusely apologize and did not mean to make this difficult. I’m happy to meet you for lunch wherever you like.  I was trying to be accommodating by finding something closer to both of us, but clearly sent the wrong message. “

    She never responded. So what went wrong?

    Emails, while quick and easy, have no tone so they can be easily misunderstood. When you talk to someone in person or over the phone, they see facial expressions, hear the inflection in your voice and sense emotional connections to topics. However, a seemingly innocent remark or off the cuff comment that might be funny in person could be completely misunderstood in an e-mail. I recall a client telling me she had worked endless hours on an important presentation only to have her boss suggest it was less than par. She was so upset, she didn’t sleep that night. As it turns out, he had sent her an email suggesting some changes on a certain slide, but she took it to mean he was unhappy with her work.

    A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found people only interpret the tone and mood of an email 50% of the time. That means you might be pleased, but the email recipient perceives you’re not. It’s these types of misinterpretations that lead to arguments, harm productivity and turn people against each other in the workplace.

    Had my fan turned foe and I connected by phone to agree on a lunch place, perhaps our mix-up would have been avoided.

    Yet, in today’s global workplace, phone conversations to schedule meetings are not always efficient. During our email exchange, I was in California. Time difference and schedules would have made it tough to connect and thanks to technology, scheduling lunch no longer requires a phone call.

    Here are five tips to help you avoid unintended email snafus:

    1.    Don’t assume what someone else means. If you’re not sure, pick up the phone and call them.

    2.    Don’t bury the lead. For example, instead of saying: “The client wants the top of this presentation reworked to better reflect the message”, try a different approach. If you said, “You did a great job on this presentation, but the client wants us to work on tightening the very top.” This way the receiver hears “you did a great job” first.

    3.    Consider the relationship. If someone knows you well, they are more in tune with your communication style and less likely to take offense or misinterpret your words. If they don’t, it’s easier for your communication to be misread.

    4.    Consider the person. If you know someone well, you have a better understanding of their personality and what might upset them.

    5.    Re-read. Before hitting send, re-read the email to see if it’s laced with tone or mood that could be misconstrued.

    In my case, perhaps the email recipient sensed I didn’t really want to have lunch even though I didn’t actually say that. Or, maybe she was dealing with other issues and simply took her bad mood out on me. Whatever the case, there is a common expression saying “it takes two to tango”. That means regardless of intent or excuse, we are both responsible for the outcome.

     
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