Understanding Email Dos and Don’ts with DISC

Consider the ways you communicate within your company.  In all likelihood you meet with people directly, call them on the phone, email or instant message them from your computer, smart phone or tablet.  You’re probably also using social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter.  We now have more ways than ever before to communicate with our networks.  We not only have the capacity to communicate clearly and effectively but to be misunderstood as well.

Too Much is Not Good

The Huffington Post published a comical, yet interesting article featuring the six ways you can offend, anger and annoy your coworkers via email.  Not surprisingly to those of us who study behavioral science, the number one and number two offenders were “sending a novel” and “sending a two-word email.”  Think about the last few emails you’ve sent.  Have you considered that your lengthy message discussing your position on a current issue might be better received face-to-face where everyone involved can provide input?  While you may feel your robust, yet professional, communication is effectively laying out your opinion, think about the conversation that you might be encouraging or discouraging?  Whether the communication is occurring between team members or between employee and supervisor; there is the opportunity for you as the writer to come across as overly opinionated, controlling and even self-promoting.

Too Little is Not Good

The two-word emails can that you send when you’re in a hurry can perhaps cause more unnecessary stress on an employee-supervisor relationship – particularly if the employee is on the receiving end of a brief response.  Picture a new employee spending a number of hours on a project, and her proposal comes back from her supervisor via email with two words: “It’s fine.”  From the supervisor’s perspective, that’s all that needs to be said.  The work is good, and there’s too much in his department that needs to be done.  The supervisor is happy with the proposal and wants his employee to get going on the project, not realizing that his abrupt response of “it’s fine” may cause his employee unnecessary stress.  “Is it just fine?  Do I need to improve it?  Is my work meeting his expectations or not meeting his expectations?” — These are just some of the concerns that can easily sprout from a simple, two word email, particularly if the employee prefers more in-depth responses.

There are very few businesses today not using email to communicate internally.  If you manage others, what can you do to ensure your team is communicating effectively with each other?  While the Huffington Post article pointed out a few of the more common e-communication culprits, there’s so much we can learn about our own communication style (and the styles of our employees) that will help us be more effective in the workplace.

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