Mar 5, 2009

Take care of the tone of your email at the workplace

Who hasn't experienced having someone we e-mailed misinterpret our intent or tone? An inappropriate tone can cause a reader to ignore, delete, or overreact to your message.

All business e-mail writers must be able to control the tone of their writing so their e-mail messages will have the results they intend. Using e-mail at the workplace, how you say
it is as important as what you say.

Tone is the quality in your writing that reveals your attitude toward your topic and reader. Tone comes from your choice of words, the structure of your sentences, and the order of the information you present.

Some studies show that people think they've correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time. But they don't. When emotions are present they fail half of the time, because there are a lot of non-verbal clues involved on interpersonal communication.

For example, it is extremely difficult to identify the sarcasm in a written message. So, is better to avoid any type of irony in a professional email.

It's easy for e-mail writers to let their tone slip from professional to edgy or sarcastic. E-mail emboldens writers to express thoughts they would never say to a reader's face. And e-mail is written quickly, then sent.

Most e-mail writers don't review their messages as carefully as they should. When they do review messages before sending, they're looking at the content, not the tone.

But tone is important. A flippant tone that the reader doesn't find funny, or an angry tone can damage a relationship as well as progress on a company project. The key is to make sure that you do not contribute unknowingly to incorrect perceptions and inaccurate impressions.


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