7 Email Tips that will Motivate not Deflate Team Members
I first heard of the term “netiquette” when I was working on my master’s degree in communications. In fact, I read a booklet about the topic for one of my classes. Netiquette is a made-up word from the words net and etiquette. Netiquette thus describes the rules of conduct for respectful and appropriate communication on the internet. Netiquette is often referred to as etiquette for the internet. This includes writing emails.
There is an art to writing emails just like there is an art to communications. My dad used to always say to me, “no one cares what you have to say, if you don’t know how to say it.”
As a communications strategist and coach, clients often share with me emails they receive from co-workers, supervisors, managers and CEOs, frustrated by the tone and wanting some direction on how to reply.
With email messages we lose a significant percentage of how we communicate because they are void of non-verbal cues like facial expression, inflection, tone of voice and body language.
- Write and Wait: Write the email and then wait. Sit on it for a while, at least 24 hours if you are angry. Re-read it a few times including reading it line by line very slowly and taking in everything you are trying to convey to that person. Maybe have a trusted person read it before you send it as well. Changing one word can sometimes make a big difference.
- Clear Your Mind: In addition to adhering to the 24-hour rule – waiting 24 hours before replying to an email or sending one when you are angry, you also need to clear your mind of clutter and focus on the issues at hand. Be specific and encouraging. Only focusing on what people did wrong, will not motivate them to improve. Think about what you need them to do moving forward, not what they already did wrong.
- Smile: This may seem absurd to smile while writing your message, but a smile can actually change your mood especially when you’re upset with a colleague or a staff member; writing an email in anger is not a good idea. Your goal is to motivate not humiliate a person. Smile long enough to calm yourself down, think positive thoughts and focus on the solution, not attacking the person. You might want to even take some deep breaths. Again, write it and wait.
- Douce it with Water not Gasoline: My dad used to also say, “don’t add fuel to the fire.” If there is an argument or major disagreement at play in the workplace, don’t add fuel to the fire. Figure out how to defuse it by cooling everyone down. One way to do that is to ask questions instead of making statements. Seek to understand the other person first before trying to make your point.
- Save Face: This is not about you saving face, it’s about allowing the other person to maintain her dignity and respect. You are coaching people up with solutions not critiquing them down by pointing out everything they did wrong. Point out what they did well. Share with them your concerns and give them an opportunity and ways of how to improve moving forward. Let them save face.
- Respect Privacy: This can tie into allowing the person to save face and that means don’t copy other people on the email unless absolutely necessary. There is no reason to embarrass others in the workplace. Go to the person privately about their mistakes and help them create plans for improvements.
- Chunk It: No one wants to open an email and stare at a novel in front of them. Write short, to the point and chunk your points much like bullet point messages or short paragraphs. This is easier on the eye and won’t overwhelm the receiver of the email. They can read each paragraph and better understand your message.
Vanessa Denha Garmo is the founder of Epiphany Communications & Coaching where she is a Communications Strategist, Evangelist, writer, and consultant. She is also a certified Life, Leadership, Communications & Strengths Coach. She is the host of Epiphany on Ave Maria Radio. You can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.