By Jenne Acevedo
Personal interaction is absent in much of our communication today. This can lead to confusion and even frustration. So how do you maintain professionalism and kindness via e-mail?
- Begin with a personal greeting. While I’m often focused on getting right to the point, it’s important to remember that I’m communicating with a person, not a computer. Add a special touch to avoid sounding bossy or clipped, even if it’s just a thank you for responding.
- Say what you need to but not what you don’t. We often add too much information or not enough. Be sure to include the important points. What do you really want to say? Limit long explanations. Less is more.
- Don’t rush. We are all busy. Our inboxes are full, but writing an e-mail too quickly can cause your message to be snippy, unclear, and even confusing for the receiver. Take a moment to think about what you need to express to that person. Don’t get ahead of yourself and prepare for the next person on your list. Give the current e-mail recipient your full attention, and then move on.
- Don’t write an e-mail when you are frustrated or tired (or hungry). Or at least don’t send it then. Shooting off an e-mail in response to someone when your emotions are high can create awkwardness, and possibly conflict, in your relationship. Be honest, but professional. Be clear, but kind. Be direct, but gracious. Give yourself time to cool off and prayerfully consider any difficult communication before it gets out of hand. Delaying your response is much better than having to apologize for it later.
- Reread every e-mail before it goes out. The words you wrote might not have come out exactly as you meant them. Avoid miscommunication before it begins. Once you finish your e-mail, read it again to be sure your words reflect your intended message. If not, then change them. And remember the audience as you review your words. How will he or she interpret them?
- End with a kind word. This does not mean fluff up your e-mail. Be sincere. Don’t say, “I’m looking forward to hearing from you,” if you are not. A simple thanks goes a long way.
Good communication is important. After all, it’s what we do for a living. Without being too cliché, make sure you write what you mean and mean what you write.
Jenne Acevedo is a freelance editor, writer, and speaker who encourages and assists writers in their journey to publication. She is the Administrator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network, the Director of PENCON, and a member of American Christian Writers Association. Jenne also leads the Chandler Writers’ Group, which she started in 2011.
Jenne lives in Chandler, Arizona, with her husband of eighteen years and their three children. She is an avid reader who loves studying God’s Word, traveling and playing games with her family, and entertaining in her home. Visit her at JenneAcevedo.com.