How to Improve Email Communication

Written by Taylor Davis

We’re not strangers to misunderstandings stemming from a text message or an email.

Too often, we’re quick to respond without actually thinking our response through, and usually emotions are the driving factor in that response.

We’re angry. We’re defensive. We’re loyal.

We want to put it all out there and let them have it.

Put the brakes on for a second.

Usually the person we’re emailing is a colleague, boss, or potential client. All of which are professional contacts, so why do we feel the need to respond in such a way that is unprofessional? Issues stem from misunderstandings, especially regarding intent, so why not talk to the person face to face, instead of sending a bad email that could cost you more?

Obviously not all interactions can be in person, but regardless of a conversation or an email, these tips can help you improve communication. Compose an email that serves a purpose, isn’t fueled by emotions and keeps the interaction simple to avoid unnecessary conflict.  


Start off somewhat personal

Don’t limit it to “hope you’re doing well.” Instead, ask how their weekend was, if they enjoyed an activity your talked about last week, or how their family is doing.

If it isn’t someone you know, research their work a little and tell them what you enjoy. For example, “I enjoyed your speech at so-and-so conference on whatch-ma-jiggy. It really made me think about my own work.”

 

Keep it simple

Long paragraphs and two-page emails are boring. The truth is a lot of people don’t have time nor the attention span to read a 20 chapter book first thing in the morning. People are busy so keep it short.

Start on a personal note, discuss the issue, provide some actions to take to reach the goal and close with a good note.

 

Don’t get emotional

People reading the email can usually feel the emotion you put into it. Anger is especially noticeable with every word and period for those paragraphs. A good rule is that if you feel angry, don’t write that email. If you feel like you need to express you email, then write it, but don’t send it. That will get your anger out and keep you from being dragged into HR or fired.

 

Remember to check your grammar and reread that email before you send it. Better yet, write the email and save it as a draft before you take a coffee or bathroom break. Does that email still need to be sent after a little time away? Can you go talk to the recipient in person?


According to Mindful, there are 6 rules of conscious emailing you should consider.

1.       Compose an email – Shorter paragraphs are easier to read.

2.       Stop, and enjoy a long deep breath.

3.       Think of the person, or people, who are going to receive the message. How do you see them reacting? Could they misunderstand your message? Remember to take into account how you phrase the message depending on who’s receiving it, like your boss.

4.       Look the email over again and make some changes.

5.       Don’t send your email right away. Leave it as a draft and come back after taking care of a few other things. Do you still need to send it? Does the tone sound the way it should?

6.       Take one last look.


A good rule of thumb is to treat others the way you want to be treated. Would you get angry if you got an email with your words? You can’t control everyone’s reactions, but taking a step to stop it from occurring at all may help in the long run.