Happy May! This past month, I had the pleasure of talking to a group of executives about the power of perception. Perception is reality but it is not always the truth. One of the examples I use is an email exchange between people. Have you ever invited someone for an interview or sent an e-mail and received a response of “k thx,” and though, “No thank you!” Have you ever read an email and reacted in this way:

Power of Perception in Email

This month I simply want to remind you not to rush to judgement. Ask yourself if you  have the full story. Ask yourself if perhaps your current emotional state may be contributing to your reaction. Too often we react without having gotten the bigger picture. Perhaps a clarifying contact, or even some time to reflect, will clear up confusion.

Here are some reminders to help ensure that e-mails that you sent are received and perceived properly:

  • Make sure the subject line reflects the content of the email. If your email takes the conversation in a different direction, then clarify how and why.
  • Only CC people who have the full story. Do not incorporate people into the conversation unless they belong and unless they have been updated on the conversation.
  • Include all relevant material. If you need to reference another email or thread, then include it; do not leave the recipient to having to search for it.
  • Remember that communication is not a “one size fits all.” Be sure to tailor each e-mail to the person and context.
  • Set expectations for the response you desire. If you wish to hear in a certain way or by a certain time, then inform the recipient.
Email is a powerful, yet potentially dangerous, communication tool. With proper care given to the sending and receiving of e-mails, most pitfalls can be avoided, and email can become a useful means of communication. Of course, do not forget that other means of communication exist, too.