Communicate Positively in Cyber World

October 7, 2011 § 1 Comment

After having received several confusing emails recently, I thought it would be worth opening a discussion on how best to communicate in today’s instant communication environment. As you have no doubt experienced, it is sometimes difficult to read people’s intent or tone with no voice inflection for guidance. So, here are several approaches I’ve found helpful.

• Begin with a salutation. “Hi” and the person’s name usually works if you are not trying to be too formal. Everyone prefers to be greeted before being told what is needed.

• In the first sentence, I’ve found a casual inquiry or statement that is non-business related sets the tone that you are interested in the individual, not just in what he can do for you. (How are you?, Happy Friday, etc.) I had a client call one day to ask if I was having a bad day because I had not included my customary inquiry. He was right…I was.

• Because tone cannot be easily understood, the use of good descriptive adjectives and adverbs is important. (I am extremely concerned vs. I am somewhat concerned.)

• The use of exclamation points, onomatopoeia (“sound” words like “ugh”) and emoticons has become widespread in this effort to express voice inflection. I recently engaged in a text conversation where I was asking someone for a favor. While the answer was basically “forget it,” it was accompanied by a smiley face, so I would not get aggravated. Didn’t work, but I appreciated the effort.

• Pay attention to how you write something. All caps means you’re YELLING. Misspellings mean you can’t spell or you don’t consider whomever you’re writing important enough to run spell check.

• If you receive an e-mail that requires more time to respond than one day, let the sender know when she can expect an answer from you.

• Don’t get caught up in the false sense of urgency that instant communication creates, especially if you receive something that makes you mad. There is no reason not to cool off for a couple of hours (or days) before responding.

• I have a client who has a Rule of 3: If your correspondence exceeds 3 texts or e-mails, pick up the phone and have a conversation. I heartily concur :).

Who has other ideas or pet peeves? We’d like to hear from you!

Kathy Kenne
Partner, Quest Group


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§ One Response to Communicate Positively in Cyber World

  • Let me just say, I love reading your blog! It helps me as a marketing professional. My pet peeve in email is when you finally get to take that vacation people send the following…
    “I know you are on vacation right now, but…when you get back I have an idea for XYZ project.”
    It is a dreaded email for me as I worry about work when I am off. My thought is to just save that email and send it when you know the person is actually conducting business in the office.

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