Watch Your Tone
The universal acceptance of email and texting in day-to-day communication brings up a couple of major issues when it comes to tone.
The first problem is that tone is simply almost difficult to convey via email. As a result, we are often forced to get a little “unprofessional” with it and toss in a forced smiley or frowney face emoji to let the reader know our intended tone.
My quick and dirty rule is to stick with the facts in email. Be polite and direct. If you feel the need to add a smiley-face in there to convey your intent, rewrite the email in a more professional manner or better yet, pick up the phone.
Mind your P’s and Q’s
If you must communicate by email only, avoid sounding angry by utilizing proper punctuation, proper use of capitalization and add in “please” and “thank you” where applicable. When in doubt toss in some polite terms. I have seen entire arguments occur over email that grew out of a misconstrued ALL CAPS statement.
A second way that we have devolved as a society when it comes to communication comes from our constant use of emojis and text-speak such as LOL, ROFL, LMAO, etc… Overuse of these shortcuts means that we have whole generations now that communicate in entirely different ways.
I have an exercise I like to do when training new folks that helps them learn how to use proper tone and inflection.
I make them read the following out loud off of a whiteboard:
that that is is that that is not is not is that it it is
When read out loud, that line of text seemingly makes no sense and they trip over themselves. I then punctuate it for them and have them read it out loud until it makes sense.
That that is, is. That that is not, is not. Is that it? It is.
This exercise shows them how to properly enunciate, inflect and improve their tone while having a human conversation.
I could go on for hours about all the ways I see communication devolving on a daily basis, so I better leave it here for now.
Thank you for reading.
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