Eclectic Blog

Tips for Email Etiquette During a Global Crisis

It seems few things have been left unscathed in the wake of Covid-19. Times are tough and it’s essential to adjust your language to reflect that. Here are a few quick tips you can incorporate into your daily email correspondence to maintain proper etiquette during a pandemic.

Be sympathetic

While it’s important to acknowledge what’s happening in the world right now, be aware that many of us are feeling pandemic fatigue and don’t need to be reminded of Covid-19 in the first sentence of every email. Proceed with caution when typing greetings and sign-offs that may be received as insensitive. For instance, while ending an email with “make it a great day” might work for some as a simple well-wish, it can cause anxiety for those who might be sick or close to someone who is. Try to put yourself in the receiver’s shoes and consider how you might feel if you got this email. It’s hard to know what the right thing to say is—try to find a balance between compassion and professionalism, trust your instinct and remember that many people are struggling.

Know your audience

Are you writing to an internal or external audience? If you’re emailing a colleague that you’re close with, light-hearted humour might elicit a smile and create a sense of teamwork that’s hard to grasp outside the office. An external audience will require a more formal tone, but it’s still possible to express empathy and add a bit of a personal touch that can go a long way in these times of limited contact with others. Striking the right tone of kindness and sincerity can build rapport and even create a sense of global comradery.

Adjust your expectations

Given the current climate, it may take longer for your reader to respond. There are countless ways the person on the other side of the screen might be affected by the pandemic, whether it’s adjusting to moving their career online or maybe even taking care of a vulnerable family member. Have patience and be considerate of others’ time—it’s just as important as your own. If you require an immediate response, it’s probably best to pick up the phone.

Tips for Editing Emails

Working remotely has many of us sending off dozens of emails a day to communicate with colleagues, customers and everyone in between. Due to the high volume, it can be easy to hit send in a hurry, forgetting to read through for any mistakes.

Your emails are a reflection of you—make sure they show off your best self! Let’s take a look at how you can make sure your emails are professional and mistake-proof in three simple steps.

Step 1

Let it sit. Take a sip of water and have a stretch before reading through your email. It’s much easier to spot inconsistencies and mistakes with fresh eyes.

Step 2

Read it out loud. Yes, this can feel silly—especially when sitting alone at your desk—but it works! If you’ve been staring at your computer for a while, it also helps to follow along with your curser to make sure nothing is missed.

Step 3

Looks are everything. Double-check for signs of poor formatting, such as lack of white space and multiple fonts. These are all things that can appear careless and deter people from reading your email.

  • Remember to start a new paragraph for each topic and idea.
  • Be careful not to overuse caps, bold and italic formatting for emphasis.
  • Stick to one font style.

 

 

Writing Effective Emails During Covid-19

Covid-19 has changed the way many of us work, constantly presenting new challenges as restrictions are put into effect. For many of us, this means working from home and relying on email as our core method of communication. As we navigate these unfamiliar work environments, it’s more important than ever to know how to write an effective email. Here are some ways you can do this.

Think first, write second

Whether initiating an email or responding, it’s important to know the “what, when, why and who” before you begin writing. Emails are typically seen as a more informal method of communication, but that doesn’t mean you should skip out on a writing process.

Chances are you’ve received an email that’s missing information or is structured so poorly you need to reread it to decipher the sender's purpose. Having a thoughtful writing process will ensure your message is clear, concise and specific, and it means you won’t have to waste valuable time responding to follow-up questions. Always ask yourself:

  •  What is the purpose of my email?
  • What does my reader need to do with this information? By when? Why?
  • Who are my readers and what do they want to know?

Your opening statement should identify the purpose of the email and grab your reader’s attention.

The following paragraph should then specify what your reader needs to do with the information given. Providing a deadline with a reason why will help motivate the reader to complete what you’ve requested.

The rest of your email can focus on the details your reader needs and wants to know. Keep in mind that some people receive dozens of emails a day and don’t have the time (or patience!) to read through long-winded content. It’s important that your message is succinct and that your subject line clearly states the purpose of your email.

Check it twice

Take your time to read through and edit your email to make sure all the information is right before hitting send. You’d be surprised how many spelling errors or unwanted autocorrects might be in there!

 

The Toughest Part of Training to Evaluate: Results

Examining organizational results is often the toughest, but also the most important, evaluation for your organization. We don’t spend time and money on training because it sounds like a good idea. Organizations spend time and money on training to improve results, such as improving sales numbers or reducing errors. You might also receive training to help you save time or frustration with your daily tasks.

How Can You Evaluate Results?

Depending on what you learned in training, this can be tough to measure. The easiest results to track are those that leave some sort of electronic trail and can be quantified. For example, if you are trying to reduce data entry errors, management should be able to create reports that show if data entry errors in your department have dropped. If they have, your training was effective at getting the results you and your organization wanted.

If errors don’t budge or go up, something has gone wrong. This doesn’t guarantee the problem was with the training or you. If you had other changes happening in the workplace at the same time or management issues, one of these things could also be the culprit. But, the results tell you that a change is still needed somewhere to get the desired results.

Often training programs need to be supported by other interventions to see results. The following is a list of assessment questions you can ask:

  • Does staff have all of the information and resources they need to perform?
  • How often is specific feedback being provided?
  • Is the workplace designed to support the desired performance?
  • Does staff have the ability and responsibility to perform?

 The Bottom Line

 In the end, even if evaluation is at times a challenge, your organization should still want to examine your results. Training is time intensive and costly. Organizations shouldn’t waste money, resources and employee time on poor training that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do.

How to Provide Useful Feedback when Editing Documents

If you edit documents for your employees or co-workers, ensure you are giving the best feedback possible. Here are ways to be a great editor.

Give Specific Feedback

Employees need to know exactly what they have done right and what specifically needs to be improved. Saying good job isn’t specific enough. Neither is saying something like this could use some work. Writers need more guidance. How can you provide it?

  • Ask specific questions to get writers to think about the effectiveness of the document. For example: Will Council recognize and understand these terms?
  • Recommend changes and give enough direction to help them. For example: This long paragraph has a lot of information. I suggest breaking it up so that the reader can find the key points faster.
  • Point out positive aspects to reinforce good writing habits. For example: The bullet points present the information in a clear and easy to read way. Great job!

Remember to be patient. In the short term, giving feedback might take more time. However, in the long term, it will save hours of editing because this process helps employees develop their skills.

Avoid Changing the Writer’s Style

When editing, do a self-check after you suggest a change. Did you suggest a change to improve the document, such as correcting grammar and typos, making the message clearer or making the tone more positive? Or, did you suggest the change because that’s how you would write it if you were the author?

We all have our own writing style and word preferences. When editing, you need to respect and maintain the writer’s style. Doing so helps build trust, and you’ll find it easier to work with the writers you edit. Unless the writer is using an incorrect style, such as being too formal or informal, leave style alone.

Remembering to be specific and respect a writer’s style will allow the writer to flourish and will create less work for everyone involved.

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