Many of us seem to have a love/hate relationship with email. You would think that after 40 years of sending electronic mail (yes, email was invented in 1971!) we would be experts at it, but that’s simply not the case. Most of us don’t give any more thought into the emails we send than the phone conversations we have – and why should you? Well, that may be part of the reason why your emails suck.

While email has been around for many years, the mechanics of sending email really haven’t evolved. We compose and send one message to any number of recipients in the To, Cc or Bcc field and assume that our poor grammar, weak humor and first-grade sentence structure are ignored and our message understood. It’s a wonder anything ever gets accomplished this way GoDaddy email login .

There’s a Dilbert cartoon where Tina the tech writer is upset with Dilbert for sending a “rather brusque” email and would like an apology. Dilbert responds that he’s sorry she doesn’t understand what brevity looks like and the ensuing discussion goes downhill from there.

It’s a wonderful illustration of the complexity of human behavior at work and how each of us might interpret both the function and tone of an email differently. One of the most important things you can remember when sitting down to type your email is that people interpret emails based on their current state of mind and not necessarily in the tone intended by the sender.

According to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people tend to misinterpret the tone of any given email 50% of the time. And perhaps not surprisingly, those same people thought they were correct 80% of the time. 50/50 odds are horrible in any scenario, whether you’re trying to close a deal or convince a group of people where to go for lunch.

An easy way to avoid the 50/50 gamble is by simply avoiding unnecessary emotion in your email. That may not always be possible or practical so if you find you’ve got to express your emotions, always request a call or in-person follow up as soon as possible. Left alone, misinterpretation of tone can result in the single biggest time and productivity killer.

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