This post was written by Bruce Eckfeldt, professional coach and founder of Eckfeldt & Associates, for SHEfinds:
Emailing blunders are abound in business. While it might be the biggest boost to productivity since the invention of the fax, email has some downsides as a communications tool. And of all of the things that can go wrong in emails, there is one thing you should never say.
Never say anything you wouldn’t print and mail.
The problem with email is that it’s become very informal and often very conversational. This lead to people writing things like that say thing. Which is fine from a style point of view but can be a problem from content point of view.
Conversation is ephemeral, extemporaneous, and naturally imprecise. We can get away with, and be excused for, saying things that we would not be at all appropriate in written form. Everyone knows that it can be difficult to formulate a clear thought on the spot and that sometimes we misspeak at times.
But the written word does not get this same luxury. People will take the written word as a final statement and position. This is why politicians and professional PR experts are so careful and precise in their statements. They know that their spoken words are going to be directly translated into written text and published.
When emailing, we tend to write like we speak and we don’t review the content well. The problem is that the receiver will read the emails like written text. This creates a gap where many many misunderstandings and miscommunications have sprouted from.
Better to write your email like your audience will read it. Write as written text, not conversation. Before you hit the send button on important emails, use this one simple test.
Print your email like a letter. Sign the bottom. Now read it and edit as you would if you were sending it in the mail.
This will make sure you are communicating effectively and leaving a written record of exactly what you intended to communicate.
While being in precise in spoken word can be a problem–especially if you accidentally left your mic hot–if that same error is sent in an email you risk not only a miscommunication, but a formal written record.