“Tone” down your text!

08 Dec “Tone” down your text!

I don’t know about you, but I find it much easier to convey my tone when I talk than when I write. After the Mets clinched a wild card sport earlier this year, I was ecstatic, a feeling that came across loud and clear in my voice. But after they were shutout by the Giants in the wild card game a few days later, I was not happy, which also came across in my voice in a good mood, which was also evident in my voice.

That’s enough about baseball until next spring. Now let’s get to a more likely source of frustration: co-workers, including your direct reports. Maybe you’ve explained something several times but this person just doesn’t get it! So you send this email:

“I don’t understand why you spent two pages of the report analyzing figures from two years ago. With the nature of our business, there’s little value in going back more than 12 months.”

What you really communicating is, “Are you that ignorant? Don’t you know that an analysis going back more than a year is a waste of time?

Though you’re beyond frustrated with this individual, hitting him or her in the face like this is probably not going to inspire them to work hard in your behalf (unless you rule with an iron fist!). Here’s a better way:

“Given the nature of our business, I suggest you focus on the last 12 months and not include the analysis from two years ago in the report.”

Sure, every situation is different, but you’ll get those around you be more productive—including on your behalf—if you treat them respect in every email.

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