Featured Author

Kristin Liu, LEED AP Senior Associate, Business Development Syska Hennessy Group, Inc.

Kristin Liu
In their book, Positioning, Al Ries and Jack Trout talks about our “overcommunicated society.” “Each year,” they write, “we send more and receive less.” Our access to so much communication media is an ongoing “assault on the mind” and the result is that “only a tiny fraction of all messages actually gets through.”

[expand title=”Click here to read more…”] Simply put, positioning is saying the right things to the right person at the right time. It is a communication approach which taps into and reconnects your target audience’s existing thoughts and experiences. This book focuses on communication directed towards the marketplace, but it got me thinking about our use of emails at work to communicate tasks and deadlines. How much of what we are sending and receiving to each other is actually effectively communicated? In 2014, over 108.7 billion emails were sent and received per day for business communication.* It is typical for principals and project managers in AEC firms to receive hundreds of emails in a day. For a busy director of real estate at a global firm or a head of design and construction for an urban university campus with 30 to 40 concurrent assignments, I am sure the number of emails is even larger. Here are some emailing tips to help assist internal and external clients, as well as your marketing team to clearly communicate. Tips for sending emails:

•Know your audience. Be aware of their circumstances at the time you are emailing them. Do they respond better to “short and sweet” or are they detail-oriented and like to know the whole picture?

•Give your subject line a relevant title. Stay on topic!

•Identify concise, actionable items first at the top of the email. Feature any deadlines and important milestones up front. Then provide the additional background details.

•Limit actionable items and instructions to 2 or 3 in a given email to get a faster response.

•Assume the recipient is not going to read your email in its entirety. If it’s a long email and you did not receive acknowledgement, the best thing is to follow up by phone or in person.

•Speaking of acknowledgment, don’t rely solely on the automatic “Read Receipt” notification. Many users preview their emails and this could trigger the email program to note that email was read, even if it was just glanced at.

Tips for reading emails:

•Don’t assume the subject line is always relevant to the body of the email. Previewing the email helps to catch mislabeled emails.

•Read the entire email. If it is too long, it may be easier just to call the sender and discuss. At the very least, alert the sender that you have not read it all and ask about the key points.

•Send a reply to acknowledge when you have read an important message, or a message sent to a large group. This helps close the communication loop.

•When in doubt about the clarity or accuracy of the email content, pick up the phone.

•If you must delegate, read and understand the email first, then forward with a brief note. It is good practice to clarify with the sender any confusing instructions or messages. You may discover that you had the answer all along, or that you need to forward to another recipient.

*This statistic is from The Radicati Group, a market research firm for the computer and telecommunications industry. [/expand]