Ah, email. What a powerful tool. What an utter nightmare! Managers probably use email so often that they no longer really spend that much time thinking about it or developing manager skills to use it wisely. However, that may be a mistake. What we forget is that email is a tool and if we can learn how best to use it, then we can become more effective. The good news is that email is that it is something that the researchers have been spending a lot of time taking a look at. Their goal has been to find out how we can become smarter about how we use email at work in order to boost the importance of information technology. Let’s take a look at what their research has uncovered and see if we can get some manager training to use it better.
Some Yelling Is Ok
So I’m pretty sure that we all know that if you receive an email that contains text that is in ALL CAPS the person who sent it to you is yelling at you. We’ve all pretty much been taught that this is not acceptable and we should not do it. It turns out that we actually can use this under the right circumstances. Researches have discovered that managers who are the best leaders will use a wide variety of strategies and techniques when they are creating emails. What this means is that you are now permitted to occasionally type a word in all capitals. The reasons that we would do this would be to show some humor or perhaps to communicate urgency. You still can’t type an entire email in capitals, but you can use all caps in smaller quantities.
You Are Permitted To Use Emoticons
One of the biggest problems that we have with email is that there is no way to show emotion in what we write. This is were emoticons come in. You know what these are – little graphical figures that show smiles or thumbs up. So why would we want to use these email decorations? When you use emoticons, the reader of your email will find your neutral emails to be more positive and will remove some of the negativity that can be associated with emails that have a negative message. Additionally, adding pictures to your email helps your readers to understand the meaning of what you are saying better. However, you do need to be careful. Studies have shown that emoticons are best used within teams. When used with strangers you may not be able to control the consequences. You may come across as being less competent with these people.
Small Things Do Matter
When we are creating emails, although we may not be aware of it, it turns out that even the little things can really matter to the people who are reading our emails. Simple things such as accidentally using two question marks instead of one can come across as being pushy to the person who is reading the email. Additionally, if you suddenly change the way that you sign your emails, the person reading it may take that as a change in your relationship with them. When reading an email, the person that you are talking to can’t see you. This means that they tend to instinctively assign meaning to anything that they happen to see. When you are sending someone an email, take the time to review your email before you send it in order to determine how you think that they will interpret it.
What All Of This Means For You
Email is something that we all use everyday. In fact, we use email so much that there is a very good chance that we really don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it anymore. However, as CIOs since communication is such a critical part of our job, we really do need to make sure that we are using email as effectively as possible. In order to do this, we need to take a careful look at what researchers have been able to find out about how we can make our email more effective.
When we are creating an email, we need to understand that if we use all capital letters, it will be interpreted by the person reading the email as if we were shouting at them. Generally this is a bad thing to do. However, it turns out that in limited cases using all caps can interject some humor or a sense of urgency into our emails. Emoticons, small pictures of faces, can be placed into emails to communicate emotions. This works well and can allow the reader of your email to better understand what you are trying to say. It can also lead to better comprehension. However, we need to be careful to only use emoticons with people that we know otherwise we run the risk of appearing to be less competent. In emails, small things matter. We need to be very careful to not include extra characters or make changes to our signature for fear of causing our reader to interpret these changes as meaning something when they really don’t.
Email is a major part of our lives right now and it will probably always be a part of our lives. In order to get the most out of this tool, we need to slow down and take a close look at it. There are right ways and wrong ways to go about using emails. If we listen to what the researchers are telling us, then we can maximize the benefit of this powerful tool.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: When do you think you should send an email vs picking up the phone or visiting a person face-to-face?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Every year when New Year’s rolls around we are all encouraged to use our manager skills to set goals for the upcoming year. Most of us actually do this and then we use those goals to guide us as we plan our work. The best part of all of this is occasionally we just happen to achieve one of our goals! The big question is how does this success make you feel? Sometimes achieving a goal can leave us down in the dumps, feeling blue, not happy at all. What’s up with this and what can we do to prevent it?