Treating others like you wish to be treated in social media isn’t always easy or convenient.
And (sometimes) it’s easier to put on a good show in your public posts but not in email communication.
But what if you treated email like social media? How you treat others in email has a direct impact on your business.
Making the Case For E-mail As Social Media
Email is quick, easily accessible and, generally, private. That makes it the most intimate type of “social media” out there.
Both email communication and social media can be misconstrued based on length, tone and use of punctuation. Both can create a lasting effect on the sender and receiver.
But with every social media post, there’s an opportunity to start anew. The sheer quantity of posts makes an ill-received one forgettable. They are also very public.
Don’t Be a B*tch In E-mail
Poor email communication sticks in the mind of the receiver for an untold period of time. And e-mail is private and taken personally.
Plus, if there’s an inconsistent or overly negative tone in your communication as a whole it makes a poor impression.
If you are sending terse, annoyed-sounding e-mails but seemingly kind and helpful social media posts, you are sending mixed messages.
Remember: Conflicting voices = disingenuous. Colleagues and clients want consistency. They don’t want to be talked down to, and they want to be treated equally and with kindness.
Before you hit send on that email (or any social media posting), check yourself:
1) Be positive! Count how many negative words or contractions you are using. Words like “don’t”, “shouldn’t” or “wouldn’t” must be used sparingly.
For instance, I could have said “Don’t be negative.” Instead, I chose the opposite. Before you say “I wouldn’t,” rephrase with “May I suggest”.
2) Would you say that to my face?: Read the email or post aloud. Now close your eyes and imagine saying it to that person directly.
If it comes across sounding even slightly sarcastic, angry or rude, start again. Sometimes even your closest friends can take something the wrong way. You should be extra cautious with people who don’t know you well in person.
If you don’t have time to craft a kindly worded e-mail, write it later.
Yes, I’m giving you permission to not respond to emails immediately! You know the adage, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all?” This goes the same for email.
3) Practice kindness and gratitude: Sometimes we treat email like our vehicles on the road; It’s mine. You will accept what I do.
Unfortunately that’s a self-centered attitude.
Roads are more dangerous when you treat driving like it’s all about you. The same goes for private or public communication.
When ending an email, say thank you and mean it. Don’t answer emails with one-word responses, even if it’s in response to a yes or no question.
Before there was Facebook or Twitter, there was e-mail. Integrate a friendly social media “voice” into your email conversations.
Do you practice e-mail etiquette? Do you agree that email is a form of social media? Talk to me about it!
Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I try to treat email the same as I would a hand-written correspondence. And that means doing my best to make sure I come across as kind. Like anyone, I’m not always successful, but the intention is always there.
My best strategy is to wait 2-3 days to hit “send.” Then I reread and adjust as necessary.
Because you’re right; it’s too easy to be rude but so important to be as kind as possible.
Erica, you are like the sweetest person ever so I can see that. It was SO hard for me to write this, because it was actually going to be posted on another blog, but I chose to no longer be a part of it. This was in part because this blog was inspired by the group’s leader. :-/ Generally, I’m snarky and honest and open. But in this case, I held my tongue and was as sweet as I possibly can be. Didn’t seem to be good enough, so I’m trying to tell everyone that words do hurt.
I don’t know any details and I will not pry, especially not on a public forum. But I’m sorry your feelings were hurt. (hug)
It’s cool. Thanks though. I’ll have to explain it later.
Oh you are so right! I have been bitten by that bear too many times to count…take a deep breath and make the email a bit longer, so it isn’t taken the wrong way. Thank you for the reminder! (I still really want that pink cake, no matter WHAT it says on it. I just love cake, even when it’s not good for me. Boy, is that a metaphor, or what?)
Lol you crack me up. I’m glad this helped.
I commend people who are the same when it is just you and person interacting and no one else looking via social media or in person. If they have feedback for us tough or easy as long as it comes delivered with heart; we can take it well. I have learned that passive aggressive behavior via email is not good social proof of our causes. Pura Vida, Luz
That’s very well stated. Having heart means everything! Thank you!
Hi Willesha, Good point. I probably would’ve written this post even milder than you did. lol. It seems the norm now to drop certain words and expressions just for their shock value. I don’t like the trend. But as certain folks in the media have seen, your written words can come back to bite you.
I agree also that email’s one-on-one quality means we should be more careful in what we say. Although it’s one on one it isn’t like talking with someone, it harder to get your points across and it’s easier to be misunderstood.
The reciever can not only say that we said something, they can say we said it directly to them. The purpose should always be to help not hurt.
You would probably be surprized at the number of emails I have written and then chose not to hit the send. Hit save instead – come back later and revise.
I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it. LOL Thanks Peter! I actually loathe swearing.
Couldn’t agree more. I’ve encountered a lot of people who drop the etiquette when they’re communicating via email simply because it’s not as public as Facebook comments or Tweets.
I’m always turned off by individuals who project a perky, positive disposition on social networks but don’t keep the same attitude when we’re communicating directly through email.
Great post, Williesha. 🙂
Thanks Francesca! You would be really surprised haha. And you want to scream out to others, “Don’t trust this person!” But you have to give folks the benefit of the doubt that eventually they will figure out some people aren’t as nice as they seem.
Lately, when writing a lengthier email, I’ve taken to writing it in a Word / OpenOffice doc first. That way, I can write it out, bad grammar and awkward sentences included. I then save it without worrying about accidentally hitting the send button.
Then, after I’ve walked away from it for a couple hours or twelve, I’ll come back and either 1) delete it entirely because it isn’t important anymore or 2) edit the heck out of it and walk away for another hour or so.
Sometimes, a second edit still doesn’t make my stand on the issue clear to the other person. Or the conflict itself would be better off not addressed again. Or, after a few hours away, it doesn’t seem important anymore. That’s when I shrug and delete it as a lesson learned.
That is FANTASTIC advice! Thanks so much for commenting and your earlier advice on Sophie’s group.
Hi there – made it over from the Link Party at Make A Living Writing, yay for our sites being back online!
I think that there’s a strong case to be made for always being kind in email no matter what, because even if you mean for an email to be private, there is a chance that there will be a terrible “reply all” mishap.
Have you ever read the story by the Bloggess about the PR guy who called her a [very bad name]? Check it out and try not to laugh. (warning: language)
Ha! Will have to check it out. Thanks for stopping by! Will see if I can get a link up soon.
Yes! This so important to remember, especially since most freelancers now do the bulk of their communication via email now.
Thanks for stopping by Savannah! It’s true. I rarely get to chat with folks on the phone and this was no exception.