| Emails and texts are frustrating|
No one is immune from writing confusing or irritating emails. Everyone will occasionally frustrate others. It's also guaranteed you will be bugged by an email or a text at some point.
It's time to revisit some electronic communication basics.
Each Irritation below is followed by a suggestion for each the sender and the recipient.
~Irritation: No reply! You wonder if they got it. Are they working on your request? Are they ignoring you? Send again? Call?
Sender suggestion: The odds are they just forgot about your request because their inbox is full. Resend to be sure they received the original request. Tell them you're simply following up to be sure they received it. Ask for an estimate on when you can expect a reply. If they don't respond, call and smile while talking. They'll hear your request better and not know how irritated your are by their lack of response.
Recipient suggestion: Let a sender know you've received their email and what to expect from you. It's better to reply, "Received and will be back to you by ....." than to let the sender wonder. Develop a system to be sure you remember to respond. If you don't have one, email me for help.
~Irritation: Snarky tone. You're bugged. They are so demanding! Couldn't they phrase things a little more nicely?
Sender suggestion: If your communication style tends toward concise and direct, remember your recipient may have a different communication style. Be polite, say please and thank you and use complete sentences.
Recipient suggestion: Research shows we physically react more negatively to electronic communications than verbal interactions, so read the email with a generous attitude. Wait before firing off an equally demanding reply or better yet, be sure your tone is more welcoming.
~Irritation: What does that subject have to do with it?
Sender suggestion: Remember to change the subject line if you reuse a previous email for a new topic. Make it as relevant as possible and if you need a timely response, say so. "Party plans: please respond by Friday, October 15"
Recipient suggestion: In Outlook you can edit the subject line of a received email to something appropriate to the email body. This will also help you remember what you're supposed to do with the email when you look your email list again. In other email programs, change the subject line before replying or forwarding. Example: change "Party" to "Mom's birthday: approve the guest list by Friday, please"
To Text or not to text?
That should be the question.
People will open a text more frequently than an email. However, that doesn't mean you should text instead of emailing or calling.
- Ask them which they prefer. They may be charged a fee per text or may only use texts for friends, family or emergencies.
- Texts are generally better than emails for short exchanges of information."Meet me at 3 at the front entrance" is fine. It's probably overdoing it to write, "I'm glad we're meeting at the restaurant on Monday. Last time I was there I had the trout and it was wonderful. Can we meet at the front entrance?"
- Pictures are best saved for emails due to large file sizes, unless you know your recipient is ok with them.
- It's a toss up as to whether emails or texts are answered more reliably, so track what you need a reply to and don't get mad if there's no reply, just contact them again.
- Be especially careful to note if a text went to multiple people. Your reply will go to everyone on the list.
- Avoid text slang. It's confusing for those that are unfamiliar with it.
- Don't assume they know who your phone number or who sent the text.
Remember, electronics are great in many areas but are no substitute for phone or face-to-face conversations. Know which is best for your purposes and treat others with the same respect you appreciate yourself.