How to Practice Mindful Email Writing
While working remotely, most interactions happen in writing. People get to know you mainly through the way you write your email or Slack messages, your reports, proposals, presentations, etc. Whether you want it or not, what you write sends out a positive or negative energy that tends to linger. That creates, even if involuntary, a perception of you as a person.
Let’s consider the example of two employees of the same organization who have different approaches to a situation.
The first situation:
● Person no. 1: What is the deal, you sent me the same file again? It’s the wrong file, pay more attention, please!!!
● Person no. 2: Hey! Could you please send the document again? I think you sent me an older version of the file.
The second situation:
● Person no. 1: I hate it, it’s pathetic. Change it! I want it ready in one hour!
● Person no. 2: Hi, Wow, you moved so fast, thank you for sending me the documents! I propose that we change a), b), c). I would need them ready by Tuesday, do you think it’s feasible?
Reflect on the two situations, and especially on the two ways of expressing the same idea.
In this context, the following questions arise:
● which of the two persons would you rather interact with on a daily basis?
● what do you feel about the two approaches, and which one do you feel would motivate you to work more efficiently and be more productive?
● how would you feel if you constantly started/finished your day with this kind of emails?
Written messages are a very limited way of communication, which allows you to either catch the attention of your correspondent or throw out at them all your frustrations.
Take into account the fact that you cannot use gestures or the tone of voice to emphasize the importance of a certain aspect or to convey the warmth of face-to-face interaction. This means that you only have one way to deliver the right message (war or peace): by choosing the correct words.
Before you dash out to write an email, my advice is to take into consideration the following aspects:
● what is it that you actually want to say or get with this message? (goal / result)
● what do you want to convey? (feeling / state)
● if you were on the receiving end, how would you like it to be phrased? (empathy / motivation factor)
Studies show that, actually, the human mind perceives 90% HOW you say something and not WHAT you say.
The perception of a negative message starts to lose its emotional impact on the person only after the reception of five positive messages.
Moreover, think about the persons who will read the messages that you are writing:
● what kind of relationship do you have with that persons? (are they your close friends/old colleagues that you’ve known forever and who know your reactions, or rather just somebody you met in the context of work?
● do they know what you are talking about? Or they might need to ask some clarification questions?
● Would a single sentence be enough, or they might need more details that you can provide from the beginning?
Of course, all this might seem like a lot to think about when writing an email.
However, the more you practice mindful email writing, the more you will understand how a more structured approach, with a bit more consideration towards the recipient of your message, will bring over time numerous benefits.