With all the sites that I manage, I have had the experience of receiving emails containing accusatory comments or erroneous claims. I am sure you’ve found yourself in similar situations where you find yourself wondering “Where did that come from?”.
There have also been times where my initial impression of an email is different if I take a break and re-read it later. I have even read emails out loud to make sure I am perceiving the correct intent and tone. Before I respond.
Nothing Like Face-to-Face
Being behind these screens makes it so much easier to type what may not be accurate or nice. Especially when you don’t have to look them in the eyes and then have to deal with their reaction.
Because of this you may find that it is easier to over react or read things into a communication that aren’t there. This happens more so with those we don’t like or enjoy communicating with.
But the thing with professionalism is if we don’t like or enjoy a business contact — they don’t know that. We treat them with respect and professional courtesy because that’s how professionals behave.
Almost everyone reading this post can admit to at some time mistakenly reading into an email what was not there. Or not receiving the response that you may, or may not, get.
Regardless, how you react puts your reputation and perception of professionalism on the line. In business, the wrong reaction can be fatal.
Don’t Jump — Be Sure
Jumping to conclusions combined with the ease of typing things on the fly makes it too easy. You can type things you wouldn’t normally say if in person which then contributes to more unnecessary misunderstandings.
The ability to Cc: the boss or BCc: coworkers with just a click, is the typical “just because you can” doesn’t mean you do scenario. Concluding this is the best approach can ding your career.
The onus is on each of us to make sure that our intent and tone are crystal clear to minimize any room for incorrect assumptions. And that you don’t jump to conclusions as well.
With business email communications, every email you send with your business email address will reflect on you and your business. Even if justified in a complaint, how you complain can make all the difference in the world.
Patience is a Virtue
Do you get impatient when you don’t receive a reply as quickly as you think you should? Or what if you don’t get the answers you want? There are so many things going on in the background that you are not aware of that can cause delayed emails or lack of response.
Then, what if your contact is in a hurry and types off a quick response that you then think is terse and vague. Because you pick-up an attitude or a response is not happening as quickly or the way you desire, doesn’t necessarily make it so either.
That’s why it is smart to always type what you mean and mean what you type. All the while ensuring that you set expectations (I need a reply pretty fast!) and make sure your tone is what you want to relay.
If you tend to assume, while you are at it, let’s also assume that you do not know all the details or criteria that could be impacting the situation. All you have to do is ask for an explanation in a kind and courteous way.
Don’t be an eTattler
When I don’t receive a response to an inquiry in a manner or time I would prefer, I don’t get rude or testy. I am always the epitome of professionalism. Even if my emotions are pushing me to respond otherwise. I don’t.
While a lack of a response, or a less than professional approach may impact my perception of the other side I still don’t change how I communicate. Rather I send a professional follow up confirming if the original request was received and, if apropos, ask if everything on the other side is okay.
If an email is terse or rude, I respond back with the courtesy not offered to me. This is how you set an example of how professionals communicate with email.
Jumping to conclusions many times only serves to expose your lack of knowledge, understanding or ability to act as a true professional under pressure. Instead use these type of situations as an opportunity to show otherwise.