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E-mail best practices for the global leader April 22, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Communication, Global communication, Global leadership, Grow your skills, Leading globally.
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The Big Dogz match their choice of communication technology to the degree of interpersonal interaction required coupled with complexity of the topic. I discussed the technology choices in my last entry. This entry looks at some best practices for using E-mail.

 

·        Keep it short, no more that 1 scroll for the receiver. If you need more than that, it is probably too complex to use e-mail. Try a phone call instead.

·        Try putting your entire message on the subject line.

·        Use tags on the subject line.

 

Action: when you want the recipient to take action

 

Response: when you are responding to a request from the recipient

 

FYI (H,M,L): when you are just giving information to the recipient

 

It is amazing. When you start using these tags to send email to others, they will start using the same tags with you.

 

·        Use the subject line to get the attention of the reader without being melodramatic.

·        Consider the guideline “One e-mail, one topic.” It makes it easier for the recipient to focus.

·        If you are asking for information, leave a space between each request. The recipient can put the answer in the space. Make it easy for them to respond.

·        Use shared websites for large files. Sending large attachments clog the network. Just include the link.

·        Forget the background scenery. It just irritates most people.

·        Never send an email when you are emotional! Write your response and store it in the Draft folder for later reading. Once you have calmed down, read the email from the perspective of the receiver. A good technique is to read the e-mail aloud to make sure it is not threatening. In more sensitive situations, have a colleague read the e-mail and give you feedback. Make changes and then send.

·        Using caps, colors and other fonts can help the recipient focus on what is important. Be careful of over doing it.

·        If you are seeking information, use pre-defined forms to make it easy for the recipient to give you the information.

·        Run spell check. Look for other non-spelling errors like the use of form when you mean from.

·        Use cc and bcc sparingly. Make sure every person cc’d needs to be aware of the information. If you are using bcc too much, it may be a sign that you need to talk to the person.

·        Use “Reply all” only when everyone needs to see your response.

·        Stay out of flame wars. If you are the target, use the telephone to handle the situation.

·        If you send two emails on the same subject and the recipient still does not understand, make an appointment to talk to them

·        Using sarcasm in an e-mail will always get you into trouble. Sometimes we feel we are being cute with sarcasm, but the recipient does not think we are being sarcastic. They think we really mean it.

·        Never put anything in an e-mail that you would not want read in a court of law. For some of us, this also means never put anything in an email that you would not read in front of your mother!

 

I have special tip I want to share for those who communicate with people who have English as a second language. Try to keep your vocabulary and content at the eighth grade level or lower. For those of you in the USA and most of Europe, this means 13-14 year olds. Now, the vocabulary of a native English speaking 13-14 year old is very impressive. I am not suggesting you speak like a 13-14 year old; just use that level vocabulary. Here is how you can check the grade level of your e-mail to your global team members with ESL.

 

1.      Copy your e-mail and paste it into Word.

2.      Click on Tools

3.      Click Options

4.      Click Spelling & Grammar

5.      Click the box next to Show Readability Statistics

6.      Click OK

7.      Run spell check

 

At the end of the spell check, you will get a report of the readability level of the content. If you copy and paste this entry into Word, you will see I have written it at grade level 6.2.

 

To customize your readability to each global team member, run the readability statistics report for e-mails they send to you. You can improve the effectiveness your e-mail by using English at the same readability level.

 

If you have any tips or techniques for communicating more effectively using e-mail, please send me an e-mail (rbronder@gmail.com) with your tip.

 

Next, I will be looking at some best practices for communicating with voice mail.

 

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