A: One bite at a time.
When facing a big project, many of us learned this little lesson from a more experienced colleague. It’s a lesson that comes to mind when I ponder the state of email frustration in the workplace. How do we bring about big enough change? What will it take for the masses to become more thoughtful, effective communicators? It’s an elephant of a problem. But here’s the key: each one of us is a bite. We can all contribute toward a more positive email dynamic in the workplace – both through our own emails and through being a good influence on others. (And for those of you with direct reports, you have an amazing opportunity to cause even greater change.)
There are lots of tips and tricks for writing good emails, but I believe that real change starts with adopting the right mindset. Here’s your new mantra:
1. We are all ambassadors. When you send an email, you are representing yourself, your team, and your company. Just like you wouldn’t show up to a state dinner in sweatpants, it’s critical to make sure your emails are “dressed” properly for each occasion. Being an ambassador is a serious responsibility, and you have to take pride in what you are putting into the world.
2. Each email is a miniature goodwill mission. Every email should work to build positive momentum and strengthen your relationship with the readers. Whether you are responding to a request or moving your own agenda forward, you should handle it in a way that makes your readers feel good and lets them maintain their dignity.
When you adopt this mindset, if shifts your perspective. Suddenly, you’ll start thinking about your email from the readers’ viewpoint. You’ll make sure the tone is positive. You’ll make sure the message is clear and easy to read. You’ll make sure that your remarks are adding value instead of just another email to their inbox. It becomes less about “you” and more about “we.”
We’ve accepted email drudgery as the norm, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Imagine if every email you received were helpful. One more time – imagine if every email you received were helpful.
Let it sink in…
Think how much more positive the work environment would be. Think about how much more you could accomplish – either personally or professionally.
Don’t settle for less! Be an ambassador. Set an example. It’s starts with you. And me. Together, we just might change the world.