by Shani Harmon, Harvard Business Review, 2/6/17.
We already have a negativity bias toward email messages. As has been demonstrated in the emerging field of social neuroscience, without the social cues — voice tone, facial expression, and physical gestures — that we rely on to interpret communication, we are prone to conclude the worst. Don’t skip the niceties, or your audience may assume a message that wasn’t intended, and you’ll be forced to do damage control.
The next time you start to write an email, follow a few rules:
- Use an intuitive subject line that clearly states the purpose of the message. Bonus points if you include a header, e.g., [ACTION] or [INFORM], that helps the reader understand the expected response.
- Provide a clearly stated request right at the beginning of your email in case your audience fails to read beyond the preview pane. At least you’ll increase the chances that people will understand the essence of your message.
- Bold the names of anyone who’s been assigned a task or asked a question in the body of the email to increase the likelihood of it getting the needed attention.
- Take the time to be nice. It will help your audience truly hear what you intended to say…