Whether it is bottom-up, top-down or transversal, communication within a company is a key element for its sustainability. We are not talking about a communication strategy here, but simply about conversations, from one human being to another. And God knows what a difficult topic this is…
Communication between people often encounters 3 obstacles:
- Judgment: Sometimes it can be difficult for people to stay objective, to put themselves in the shoes of the person they are talking to, and not to judge the other.
- Suggestive listening: each of us is influenced by our own thoughts, obligations, and motivations. As such, we’ve got this strange ability to listen only to what we want to hear.
- Pure understanding: sometimes the obstacle comes from the fact that we don’t have the same definition for a certain word and therefore don’t talk about the same thing.
This is why we’d like to share several tips with you to improve communication between everyone in the company – ways to help you create a working environment that boosts people’s well-being and productivity.
Messaging: why, how?
When it comes to email, three of the main uses of this type of communication are:
- Informing several people: When several people need to be informed at the same time, email is obviously one of the most appropriate ways to do so. But before sending your email, ask yourself the following question: does each recipient really have to be in the loop? Avoid adding people “just in case”.
- Distributing documents: Whether documents are attached to an email or the latter provides a link to download them, email makes it easier to keep track of them if necessary. Just be aware of sending an attachment without a link in the subject of the email; this will make it just as difficult to find the documents as when they were hidden under an actual pile of paper.
- Organizing meetings: Sometimes one email is not enough to fully inform several people at the same time. It then becomes necessary to get everyone together around the same table. An email, therefore, has the advantage of simply being able to schedule this meeting, share the agenda and inform participants of any updates. Don’t overdo it though and spam people with updates because then you risk losing them as to the time and place of the meeting.
How to write your email
Never forget that an email is “cold” and doesn’t give recipients an intonation; the intention of the sender. Here are some tips to avoid any misunderstanding, any misinterpretation of an email:
- Carefully choose the subject of the email: The subject allows you to inform your recipients about the content of the message that will follow, even before they open it. So never leave the object empty but indicate a short and precise subject.
- Take care of the structure: Stick with what’s most essential if you want people to read your email from beginning to end. Leave some space between paragraphs, add bold for important elements if necessary or underline keywords.
Use punctuation wisely. Don’t use too many suspension points; if they are misplaced in the text, they may distort its meaning. The main purpose of suspension points is to mark a pause in the text, a sudden break in a dialogue, or an inner reflection.
Finally, DO NOT WRITE IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Although you may think you are making certain elements of your email more visible, it can be perceived as SCREAMING by your recipients!
- Don’t exaggerate when it comes to the number of recipients: The (To) field is meant for the main recipient(s), the (CC) field allows you to add anyone who needs to be informed about the subject, without necessarily having to answer. But don’t copy in the entire company so to speak. Do not add new people to each new answer. The effect would then be counterproductive for your main recipient who would feel “pointed at”.
- Give recipients time to reply: If you are expecting an instant reply to your email, you’ve picked the wrong communication tool. Email gives recipient(s) time to continue their work, their appointments, urgent tasks and also to take care of your email. And if it has been a while since you’ve sent your email and the person you sent it to seems to have forgotten all about your message (or it has gotten lost in their inbox), there is nothing wrong with sending a friendly reminder.
And what if we would talk in person?
Sending someone an email is easy, and that explains in large part why it is so widely used. But in the communication pyramid, email is placed quite low: an email doesn’t engage people much, nor does it spark a lot of interaction. So often, it still remains necessary to actually speak with the people you sent your email to.
So don’t hesitate to:
- pop around your colleagues’ desk to ask them a question,
- pick up your phone if you need an immediate answer,
- go to the coffee machine to have an informal chat.
To speak with the words of the Palo Alto School: “To communicate is to enter an orchestra” so choose your instrument wisely and get going!