I recently wrote a blog entry about social media and formal writing called C U @ #writingclass. This got me thinking about written communication and how most people, at one time or another, have experienced a problem stemming from unclear communication. I have found that it can be particularly difficult to communicate effectively through email, especially because tone of voice can get lost in writing. Things can become misconstrued and details can get lost in endless strings of emails. Here are five tips that I feel have helped me to communicate better through email.
- Know your audience. You would not necessarily write to your boss the same way you would write to a co-worker. It is always best to keep email writing as professional as possible, but there can be different levels of that depending on the recipient.
- Use bullet points. When sending a long, detailed email with multiple questions or ideas, it is always a good idea to use bullet point whenever possible. It helps the important aspects stand out more and makes them less likely to be overlooked.
- Know when to stop emailing and pick up the phone. Have you ever had a long string of emails about the same subject and felt like you were just going around in circles? Stop emailing and suggest a phone call or meeting. Sometimes things are more easily cleared up when you can talk them through.
- Establish a follow-up or deadline clearly. Don’t assume that your recipient will know to follow-up or when you expect tasks to be accomplished. Set clear deadlines to ensure everyone is on the same schedule.
- Remember that not everyone thinks the way you do, and that’s ok. You may find something logical that someone else would not. Make sure you are detailed enough for your recipient to fully understand your message. It is also helpful to adapt somewhat to the communication style of others.
We communicate with others throughout the majority or our days. Do you ever stop to think about how you could communicate better? Do you want to be a better communicator? Take EDU 547C Interpersonal Communication Skills (starting March 28!) to learn ways of improving your communication.