I Cannot Hear Your Voice in Email Communication

When I coach my business clients how to communicate effectively one of the first things we discuss is their use of email communication.
The truth is, email enables us to be much more efficient in our business communication.  However, it also can pose many unplanned crises when we are not careful about the tonality we use in our written correspondence.
The primary challenge in using email is, the recipient uses their own tonality as they read your email message and their perceptions of you and your relationship with them will cause them to apply an emotional component to your message that may or may not accurately depict the intent  of your message.
Therefore, there are a few guidelines you can follow:
1. Never EVER send an email when you’re angry – It may feel good (for a brief moment) but the repercussions can be deadly.
2. Avoid using emoticons – they may be cute, but they dilute your reputational brand by showing a lack of professionalism.
3. Try not to bombard the recipient – if you find yourself writing the next great American novel, chances are that email is not the right delivery mechanism for what you’re trying to convey. Call them instead.
4. Don’t email someone the first time you are attempting to contact them – with spam filters someone that has never received an email from you before may have your email land directly in their spam folder.  So, have them be on the look out for your email by calling them first.
5. Have someone proof your message – use quality control by having someone read any and all highly important email communications for grammar and content.
6. Use larger point sizes and easy to read fonts – fonts without headers and footers (ex. Arial, Geneva and Tahoma) tend to be easier to read.  You should also adjust your settings so the point size is not less than 12-point. Hint: letter point size refers to height. 72-point is ONE inch tall.
7.  Use a signature block – always have a signature block with all of your contact information at the bottom of your email. You can create a signature block in your email settings.
8. Use “Out of Office” greetings – if you are going to be away for more than three (3) business days, be sure to set an out of office greeting.
9. Empty your in-box immediately – apply the same rule of thumb for your email that you should for all of your paper documents.  Immediately move all emails into folders, so you can go back to them/find them later.
10. Empty your email folders on a regular basis.
11. If an email is very important, call the recipient to confirm they received the email.
12. Use engaging, creative subject lines – they can’t read your message if they don’t open it.  Ensure they open your email by engaging them in the subject line. Consider it the equivalent of a headline in a print ad.
13. Leave the “TO” field blank – If you are working on an email in DRAFT mode, leave the recipient box empty until you are absolutely sure it is ready to send.
14. Test it out on yourself – If the email is important enough, send it to yourself first as a test to see how it looks and reads. Better yet, send it to someone whose opinion on such matters you trust.
15. Use the Carbon Copy (:CC) and Blind Carbon Copy (:BCC) lines judiciously.
16. Organize your email folders the way you organize your business folders.  Keep it simple so you can find emails quickly.
17. Keep a separate file for the people you communicate with most frequently.
18. Use a “CLOSE” – If you are going to follow up with them on a set day and time or want them to follow up with you, indicate it at the end of the message.
19. ALWAYS be cautious of the REPLY and REPLY ALL functions.  They can be deadly when you want to reply to one person on the distribution list and you send your response to everyone.  This can be especially damaging when what you have to say about one or more of the people on the list is less than flattering.