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NextGen Magazine


How to Avoid Email Misunderstandings

Jason Wong
Published Date:
May 1, 2015

computer-keyboardIt’s easy to see how emotion or intent can be misconstrued in an email—after all, email lacks the nuance of, say, tone of voice or body language. So how do you make sure a message is interpreted correctly? The Harvard Business Review offers these tips for preventing disastrous miscommunication:

  • Consider the emotional context of an email. Take into account how the person on the other end of the email is going to read it. Is the recipient your boss, your client, your coworker, or your employee? How long have you known each other? Are you familiar with each other’s personalities?

  • Remember, mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery. If the person to whom you’re writing uses emoticons, casual language and superfluous punctuation, feel free to be less uptight about your own use of language. Conversely, don’t send an emoji to a more formal client.

  • Be clear about how you feel. Avoid being subtle and state your feelings plainly, i.e., “I am happy with what you’ve done so far” or “I think that this part could be improved.”