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5 Ways To Avoid A Massive Email Misunderstanding

Emotions are hard to express with text

Emotions are hard to express with text

When you meet in real life, you can read a person’s emotions. Even with a phone call you can extract a lot of information from someone's tone of voice.

But with email, you’re flying blind, which is why it’s easy to be misinterpreted.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

5 Ways To Avoid A Massive Email Misunderstanding

5 Ways To Avoid A Massive Email Misunderstanding

https://www.fastcompany.com/3054178/5-ways-to-avoid-a-massive-email-misunderstanding

fastcompany.com

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Key Idea

Emotions are hard to express with text

When you meet in real life, you can read a person’s emotions. Even with a phone call you can extract a lot of information from someone's tone of voice.

But with email, you’re flying blind, which is why it’s easy to be misinterpreted.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Building Rapport Remotely

To better build rapport and counter isolation do the following:

  • smile, tilt your chin lower so you're not looking down on them, and slow down your speech during your vid...
Relying On Text The Right Way

Voice and video calls can help you feel more in touch with your team and avoid the issues of asynchronous communication like time lags or misunderstandings.

However, you'll likely spend a lot of your day communicating via text as it’s a good way to interact without interrupting their work. So you need to be able to get your point across clearly and simply, show empathy and understanding, and be efficient to avoid wasted time.

Staying Up To Date

Remote workers can feel overwhelmed by the amount of text they have to process. So finding ways to keep on top of what's going on is imperative for communicating efficiently with others.

Create archive lists and CC irrelevant emails to them, so you can save and share them without flooding non-involved people. 

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Research on communication

Research found that only 7 percent of communication comes from the words you use; the rest of what you communicate comes from your voice and tone (38 percent) and your body language (55 percent).

Connecting with people
If you really want to communicate effectively, you need to connect and converse with the people around you—beyond words on a screen.
Embrace small talk

Small talk might not be that meaningful, but it does have a few benefits: it can make you happier and it can boost the brain’s executive functions responsible for everything from attention and focus to time management to organization.

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“Be A Strong Writer”
“Be A Strong Writer”

This is one of the first pieces of advice people give to those seeking remote work.

When you work remotely, a few misplaced words can become an occupational hazard. Every w...

Accessible Language
  • Use of caps lock, emojis, italics and tildes (~) to make your language flowery, fun and human is a great idea for remote working. You can also use memes and gif images, provided they are not offensive to anyone.
  • Robot speak is not a good way to freely collaborate with your remote peers. Use simple words, and keep it on the casual side, skipping the inaccessible and stilted language. You can also opt for contractions like writing isn’t instead of is not.
Be Clear And Concise
  • Do not obscure your message by words that are there to decorate the sentence and make it sound wordy while camouflaging what you mean.
  • Make good use of qualifiers ("I think, In my opinion") while not coming across as a perpetually confused person. Don’t use qualifiers while making a strong point.
  • While writing documentation, it is prudent to avoid jargon and acronyms.
  • Use complete words and sentences. Shortcuts and acronyms block any actual communication, acting as roadblocks. On the same lines, avoid cliches, idioms and any idiotic sounding phrase that catches the ear well but doesn’t really do any good to anyone.
  • Remote working is often on a global scale, and certain expressions will not be understood by some participants, or worse, will be misunderstood.
  • Your words and tone should be tailored according to your audience. The words are different when you are writing to a client, and when you are in a small group chat with your peers. More people in chat also means adopting a polished, professional tone.

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Coworkers That Cause Drama

When you're second-guessing yourself before communicating with someone, you probably have reservations based on their past reactions. 

When you do need to communicate with such people,...

Don't Pretend to Be Above Office Politics

You work with a variety of people and you won't always get along with everyone. Telling yourself, "I don't engage in office politics, I tell it like it is," is a flawed tactic that might just cause more trouble.

When you stick your foot in your mouth, all you can do is apologize and explain it was a genuine mistake.

Ask Questions

Ask your contacts in any new environment.

  • Are there sensitive topics that I shouldn't discuss without talking to you first?
  • Can you draw an organizational chart for me?
  • Who should my main point of contact be for this project?
  • Is there a certain process I should follow for this task? Is it okay if I talk to this person first?
  • With whom should I be engaging?

With a clear understanding of how they work and are their organizational hierarchy, you're less likely to do something that will cause unnecessary drama or miscommunication.

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Make Time To Connect

Workers crave a sense of authentic connection with others and the best way to do that is by bringing people together in person. But it's not always a viable alternative.

One way to do that...

Communication
  • Set clear expectations and make an effort to be a good listener.
  • Set clear boundaries. Establish a preferred time for communications so you feel respected and acknowledged.
  • Get to know others. Remote workers often have purely transactional interactions. Listen to people and get to know them.
  • Update people on what you’re working on and your availability
Use Shared Experiences

A co-located office develops its own personality through inside jokes, shared experiences, and a collaborative environment. A remote team needs to develop something similar.

Creating specific Slack channels based on interests and book clubs where the company funds the books are the easiest ways to do this for remote workers.

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Take a Vacation and Fully Unplug
Vacations with loved ones will help entrepreneurs avoid burnout. It's important to put on an out-of-office message, too, and not respond to emails. Another benefit of taking a vacat...
Forget Balance, Find Harmony
I think people who say it’s all about work-life balance are wrong. I value finding passion and harmony in my work by being connected to and caring about my team and my customers and making a big difference in their lives. I would burn out way faster working five hours a day at a job that was hurting my soul than I would working 15 hours a day at a job that's feeding my soul.

—Dan Price, Gravity Payments

Know Your Breaking Point
I think most entrepreneurs will tell you it's impossible to unplug—so burnout is almost inevitable. However, it's important to know when you're close to or at a burnout stage. Something as simple as taking a day off, going for a bike ride, or having a fun night out with friends can help to take the edge off.

—Pablo Palatnik, ShadesDaddy.com

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Common errors when reading people
  • Ignoring context: Crossed arms don’t mean much if the room is cold or the chair they’re sitting in doesn’t have armrests. 
  • Not looking for clusters: It’s a consisten...
Trusting your instincts

Your first impressions are usually pretty accurate. But whether they are wrong or right, first impressions affect us in a big way and we are slow to change them.

You have to be willing to update them quite rapidly. 

Reading first impressions
  • Studies show that if someone seems extroverted, confident, religious or conscientious, they probably are.
  • We all pay more attention to pretty people, and so we tend to take the time to evaluate them.
  • If you want to know if someone is good at their job, watch them do it for 30-60 seconds. 
  • Funny people are smart: Effective humor production acts as an honest indicator of intelligence in humans.

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Origins of the non-violent communication method

Marshall Rosenberg developed a practical strategy for peaceful conflict resolution called non-violent communication. 

By focusing on language and process, the theory goes, in...

Observe and recap

The Non-violent communication (NVC) process begins with neutral observation.

In conversations, this is most easily done by recapping what someone has said, without emotional input.

That means not attaching any judgment or “story” to your response.

Describe emotions, not positions

For NVC, talk feelings, not issues. 

The hard part in nailing this step is expressing only your own emotional turmoil, rather than translating your emotions into blame. 

Describing feelings of concern, fear, heartbreak, rage, dismay, or confusion are useful.

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Not Editing Your Work
Not Editing Your Work

Spelling, tone and grammatical mistakes can make you look careless.

  • Don't rely on spell-checkers.
  • Proofread your work.
  • Use a dictionary to look up any words that y...
Delivering Bad News by Email

Written communication channels don't allow you to soften difficult messages with nonverbal cues.

Delivering a message in person makes it easier to pick up on signs that people have misunderstood parts of your message.

Avoiding Difficult Conversations

It's tempting to try to avoid difficult conversations, but this can cause further problems.

  • Preparation is key to handling difficult conversations.
  • Use tools such as the Situation – Behavior – Impact technique to encourage your people to reflect on their behavior.
  • Role-play your conversation first.

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The lack of verbal and nonverbal social cues
The lack of verbal and nonverbal social cues

Any email message we send has the potential to be read in the wrong context, or misinterpreted entirely by the recipient. Even if we have smiley faces in the email, it is no match ...

A Goldmine of Miscommunications

Due to the limitations and the multifacetedness of language, emails often lead to miscommunication, guessed intentions, or total awareness of what the person is trying to convey.

The problem is further complicated if you are writing to someone whom you haven’t met in person.

Subject Line Emails

These types of emails (with the entire email is a sentence in the subject line, with no email body, just the signature)are usually sent by a very direct person, that either feels very busy or that the problem can't be solved simply in an email, so it's too much for them to go into it all.
If you respond with more than 2 sentences, they are probably not going to read it, so you should just get on the phone or get over there in person.

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