How many instances in the past month has somebody misinterpreted your email?

How many instances in the past month have you misinterpreted somebody’s email?

Was the result permanent or temporary mistrust, lost productivity, or worry-anger-resentment?

Xtra Effort has seen:

  • A candidate email’s intent to demonstrate enthusiasm for a position become misinterpreted as overly aggressive
  • A client email’s intent to demonstrate continued interest (in a candidate) as non-committal, or insincere and derived from a boiler plate template
  • A client email’s intent to create fair negotiation boundaries be perceived as inflexible and “take it or leave it”
  • A candidate email’s intent to demonstrate appreciation for an offer, but also seeking clarification on commuting challenges, be perceived as non-committal

Email communication intent can be misperceived because the receiver does not understand the message content. However, more often the receiver can not calibrate the tone of a message, including humor, energy level, degree of urgency, priorities (as compared to other considerations on the table), etc.

Another major challenge with email is the sender’s inability to insure – in real time – the receiver interprets the message the way he intended, and with limited ability to clarify.

The result is lost opportunities, and a lot of time and energy spent trying to fix a broken message or relationship.

A simple rule of thumb is to limit your email to facts and logistics, and use the phone (or, ideally, in person) as a way to convey any message involving emotion or nuances over priorities. This will enable you to improve productivity and improve your communication impact.

Exceptions include messages that are positive and light in tone. The duration and depth of the sender/receiver relationship also impact when exceptions can occur. Newer relationships should have more factual emails.

I suspect this suggestion is equally relevant for Sales or PS staff when interacting with their peers and clients.

This message is written to remind myself as much the reader 🙂

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