Apparently, the average worker in the USA generates 10,000 e-mails in a year. I’m both astounded and frightened at this statistic, mostly in fear of checking my own outbound e-mails and coming anywhere close to that number.
I have to wonder how many of those e-mails are sent needlessly, as a result of a major mistake that we see individuals make all the time. I have to say, this post wasn’t my idea, but rather Brian Wyrick, our COO, who had this to say on the matter.
I really wish people would stop trying to drop the mic via e-mail.
It makes sense, right? How often do you find yourself trying to craft the perfect e-mail, only to have it come back through in a chain of dozens more questions and unresolved issues.
There are a multitude of reasons why ‘dropping the mic’ in your e-mails tends not to work, but here are a few blatant ones.
You forgot to consider what the other person cares about.
When we communicate with other people, we’re typically trying to have them understand a subject from our point of view, that we have something interesting to contribute to the matter at hand. What we forget, is that in order for the receiving party to agree, your message has to resonate with them.
Simply put, your e-mails are too self-centered, and no matter how well-written they are, they’re going to backfire because your colleague, client, or partner doesn’t always care about the same things you do.
Your recipient didn’t give you all the information to begin with.
You’ve spent a half hour, covered all the angles, were compassionate, kind and suave. You’ve done everything you could, and more – but the recipient drops a bomb on you:
“Actually, I didn’t care about thing X – what I really want to talk about is thing Y.”
There’s no way you could have known that, so your super crafty e-mail was a waste of 30 minutes and all the mental energy that went with it.
Your recipient misreads a straightforward comment as sarcastic or condescending.
Before your recipient read your e-mail, any number of things could have happened in the course of their day. They could have just gotten fired, been to a funeral, or exited a relationship (insert country song here). The point is, you can’t control the response, despite (again) how well-crafted your message is.
Maybe the recipient is having a bad day. Maybe they just don’t like you. Either way, the point is that we as professionals rely too much on digital communications to get the job done.
So how do I solve these problems with e-mail?
You don’t. You pick up the %*@% phone and talk to the other human, like a human.
You’ll find it’s like magic – you’ll hear the tonality of their voice, the sweet, sweet emotion (or angry sarcasm) that accompanies the day that someone has had. You’ll get to be all the things that your well-crafted e-mail intended, but live and in-person (per se).
The logic is this: With e-mail communications, we cast a message off into the wild seas that we can’t bring back. The currents may take that message and cast it to the rocks, or let it find a safe, welcoming harbor.
If you have any doubts as to whether your e-mail message will be received exactly as you intend it, you might save one of those 10,000 messages for another day, and start dialing.