Are you constantly frustrated by never getting a reply, always having to follow-up and feeling a little ignored? Quite often, this is a case of it’s you, not them. The vast majority of workplace communication happens via email, but there are more mediums than we could even mention to communicate today. FastCompany reveals that almost 80% of email are a total waste of your time. Regardless of the communication channel, these tips will help makes sure that your communications aren’t part of the problem.
The Golden Rule of Communicating: It is less about you, and more about those with whom you’re trying to communicate. If you get that down, the rest is pretty simple.
Stop Forwarding Threads
We have all gotten them, the forwarded thread that you’re supposed to do…something with? This has to stop right now. These long threads that are simply passed on for the convenience of the sender are a waste of the receiver’s time. If you’re going to forward a thread, note which parts are relevant to the reader and summarize them. If the whole thread is relevant, then say that and define why. Reading through pages of emails (that depending on your server, are never formatted ideally) can take a lot of precious time. I don’t know about you, but I stop reading these a few emails in.
If you as a manager are reading this right now and thinking something along the lines of that’s not my problem, getting your emails read is the least of your problems and you should stop reading now and take a leadership course. Great communication IS your problem.
Choose Relevant Subjects
Stop volleying emails back and forth until a project that ended mid-last year is still in the subject line of your emails. We all do it –search the last communication with someone and hit “reply”. This means that the old subject line is in your new communication, rendering your email a back burner open.
Additionally, if a communication requires immediate attention, label it accordingly. Words like “deadline”, “due” and “urgent” will all alert the reader that this is the email they are going to need to open first. The opposite holds true as well. If you’re asking a favor, or you know the recipient is swamped, it might be courteous to simply write, “When you have time…”.
Don’t Be a Jerk
Exclamation points and all caps should only be used when you are either extremely excited about something, or when you’re extremely pissed off about something. When we aren’t communicating verbally (which is the majority of the time), much can get lost in translation.
I once got an email defining for me a process that had never been explained before, so it turns out I hadn’t been doing it correctly. The email was about 50% in all caps. I immediately got fired up, knowing fully well that this misstep wasn’t my fault. When I confronted my co-worker about it, they had no idea why I was offended and explained that the caps portions were what they needed me to pay special attention to. So again, good communication is more about considering your audience. Marketing specialist Maren Hogan said:
“Keeping the audience in mind when crafting email is the key to getting them read and properly acted upon. Once you have an email written, read it as though you are receiving it. Is the tone appropriate for the message? Are the proper attachments present? And most importantly, does this email make sense to the reader? What might be perfectly clear to you may have absolutely no context to the reader.”
Employee engagement specialist, Melissa Dawn Photiades suggests that you always lead all communications with respect.
“Open, positive and genuine approaches at respectful workplace relationships are a catalyst for great things to happen. The difference you will find in how people respond to you and one another can be pretty astounding. The natural response to respect, is usually respect…who would have known? In the same manner that disrespect can create negative cyclical relationships, respect works just as strongly in creating positive cyclical relationships.”
Lastly, if you require a response, ask for it. If you have a deadline, highlight it. Sometimes it is as simple as that. Lead with respect, keep your audience in mind, and keep it simple. Communication is the backbone of a successful, driven and engaged workforce –always work at improving it.
For more information on how to improve workplace communications, especially as they relate to your business goals and objectives, take a demo today.
As the head of a department in the midst of a sustained period of rapid growth, Sara has spent thousands of hours interviewing, hiring, onboarding and assessing employees and candidates. She is passionate about sharing the best practices she has learned from both successes and failures in talent acquisition and management.